This week Microsoft released version 2 of Silverlight, their alternative to Adobe Flash for providing Rich Internet Applications (RIAs). There were various functional enhancements including the promised Silverlight DRM for content protection as well as new cross platform support (see Tim Anderson’s caveat), but I found myself counting the house:
We launched Silverlight just over a year ago, and already one in four consumers worldwide has access to a computer with Silverlight already installed,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at Microsoft.
Silverlight adoption continues to grow rapidly, with penetration in some countries approaching 50 percent and a growing ecosystem that includes more than 150 partners and tens of thousands of applications. During the 17 days of the 2008 Olympics Games in Beijing, NBCOlympics.com, powered by Silverlight, had more than 50 million unique visitors, resulting in 1.3 billion page views, 70 million video streams and 600 million minutes of video watched, increasing the average time on the site (from 3 minutes to 27 minutes) and Silverlight market penetration in the U.S. by more than 30 percent. Broadcasters in France (France Televisions SA), the Netherlands (NOS), Russia (Sportbox.ru) and Italy (RAI) also chose Silverlight to deliver Olympics coverage online. In addition, leading companies such as CBS College Sports, Blockbuster Inc., Hard Rock Cafe International Inc., Yahoo! Japan, AOL LLC, Toyota Motor Corp., HSN Inc. and Tencent Inc. are building their next-generation experiences using Silverlight.
Microsoft’s goal is to reach the point where the average, unsubsidized Web developer building a rich content site makes the decision for Flash or Silverlight based on other criteria than the ubiquity of the respective browser plug-ins. They clearly haven’t achieved that yet, but it appears that they have made good progress.