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Streaming Media West [19-20 Nov 2019]
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Streaming Media East 2007: Keynote Sheds More Light on Silverlight
Microsoft's Sean Alexander showed off Silverlight and the Expression Studio suite, and even the skeptics at Streaming Media East seemed cautiously optimistic that Microsoft is now fully focused on the media space.
Tues., May 15, by Steve Mack

Streaming Media East kicked off this morning with a keynote from Sean Alexander of Microsoft giving a presentation about Silverlight, Microsoft’s latest effort in their refocused media strategy. Those of us who have been moaning about Microsoft’s lack of attention to the streaming space breathed a collective sigh of relief, as it appears that they are now fully committed to building a platform that will enable cross-platform rich media experiences.

The keynote began with an overview of Silverlight, followed by a number of demos that showcased the kinds of content that can be developed using Silverlight technology. If you’ve seen any of the recent Silverlight presentations or played around with the demo, there was nothing really new here, but it certainly warms the heart to see a really cool demo running on Vista, as well as in Firefox on the Mac. The demos were followed by an overview of the Expression Suite of tools used to create the demos, and a couple of quick presentations from Microsoft partners who are creating Silverlight-enabled offerings. Finally, Alexander talked about the roadmap for Silverlight releases.

The keynote felt a bit rushed, but that’s no doubt due to the fact that Silverlight is such a wide-ranging release. There’s so much to talk about and explain that it’s virtually impossible to sum up in an hour. And, to be honest, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Silverlight 1.0 is only a beta release, with Silverlight 1.1 now available in alpha. It’s early days, but the indications are good.

As a content creator, I’m most interested in how the demos were created. It’s easy to showcase flashy demos with video encoded at high bit rates—the question is, how difficult is it to create a Silverlight presentation? I want to take advantage of all the new features of Silverlight, but I need to know how it is going to affect my workflow.

The Silverlight release includes a new set of tools, collectively known as the Expression Suite. It comprises four different tools: Expression Web, Expression Design, Expression Blend, and Expression Media Encoder. Expression Web (formerly Front Page) is used to author web pages; Design is used to create vector-based graphics; Blend is used to add the "wires" required to make all the different pieces of a Silverlight presentation interoperate; and Media Encoder is the new encoding software.