Microsoft's Silverlight Tags Along On Halo 3 Coattails

More than 1.5 million copies of Halo 3 have already been sold, making it the fastest pre-selling console game in history and passing the record previously set in 2004 by Halo 2. Created by Bungie Studios and distributed by Microsoft, the Halo first-person shooter series set against the backdrop of a future war has become the killer app of Microsoft's Xbox console gaming system.

Halo 3 will go on sale tonight at more than 10,000 retail outlets across the country that will open their doors at midnight to deliver the wildly anticipated game. In advance of Halo's launch, Microsoft is fanning the fan flames with preview content scattered throughout its Web network -- much of which showcases other, emerging Microsoft technologies.

Fans who want to check out videos set in the Halo universe and posted on MSN will need to first download Silverlight, Microsoft's recently launched multimedia client. Like its archrival, Adobe's Flash, Silverlight requires users to download a browser-plug in. Microsoft is relying on content providers to drive Silverlight adoption by luring users with compelling creations.

Microsoft is also tying together Halo and Silverlight at Tafiti, a new experimental search engine that harnesses Silverlight's flashy visual capabilities. Tafiti is temporarily rebranded with a Halo skin, drawing on the war game's graphics and user-interface appearance.

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Tafiti's search "carousel," a graphically rendered storage area for searches, now features a Halo icon linked to Halo-related search results from gaming enthusiast Web sites. The scoped search set draws on Microsoft's new Live Search Macro technology, which lets users create custom "search engines" tailored to predefined topic areas and limited to searching relevant sites.

But so far, Microsoft has resisted pushing Silverlight out through the Mecca of Halo 3 content, its own site: That site, one of Microsoft's most popular entertainment destinations, is still built around Adobe's Flash.