Microsoft 'Desperate' To Popularize Silverlight - Report

According to a Wednesday report from NeoSmart Technologies, a non-profit software development and research firm, Microsoft is "desperate" to raise Silverlight's profile in the minds of developers and consumers. And with the re-design, Microsoft could conceivably convert a goodly portion of the approximately 60 million visitors who come to the site each month to Silverlight, according to NeoSmart.

Silverlight is a subset of the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) system that's included with Windows Vista. Like Adobe's Flash, developers can use Silverlight to develop video, animation, vector graphics and rich user interfaces, and many Microsoft partners who've been working with Silverlight say its features are on par with those of Flash.

Silverlight also includes 720p high-definition video, digital rights management, and the ability to design deep, interactive user interfaces, all features that Microsoft sees as opportunities to take market share from Adobe.

Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, Richmond, Calif., says by re-designing its homepage in Silverlight, Microsoft "will help the creative community by demonstrating just what is capable in a Flash-free world."

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"There will be misfires and extreme makeovers of pages that don't warrant the attention and don't benefit from a tarted-up user interface. But there are hundreds of pages that use Flash, a blot that should be erased this year," added Stanfield.

While the new Silverlight interface is "a pretty big step up from the old design," NeoSmart -- which included a link to the Microsoft beta test page -- noted that the same results could have been achieved using HTML or Javascript/AJAX. "It's really nice to use, it's smooth, it's easy, and it's beautiful - but it's nothing that requires a [rich Internet application] in the first place," wrote NeoSmart.