In what is increasingly becoming a war of words between Microsoft and Adobe, the two companies seem to time announcements about Silverlight and Flash respectively in an effort to steal the other’s thunder. Last night, a few hours before the embargo lifted on a bundle of announcements Adobe was making at their annual MAX conference, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division Scott Guthrie put out a post on his blog about the state of Silverlight and hinted at upcoming features in Silverlight 3, which should ship next year.
Guthrie was obviously very positive on Silverlight and the strides Microsoft has made in 2008 in getting the browser plugin out onto consumer machines. According to Guthrie, since the release of Silverlight 2 last month, the plugin has been downloaded over 100 million times, and some version of Silverlight is installed on 1 in 4 web connected computers. That’s pretty good for a technology that initially debuted under 20 month ago.
Guthrie also took some direct shots at Adobe’s competing Flash technology. “In the August 2008 edition of Web Designer Magazine (a Dutch publication) a [Dutch television network] representative reported that they were able to serve 100,000 concurrent users using Silverlight and 40 Windows Media Servers, whereas it would have required 270 servers if they had used Flash Media Servers,” he wrote. Guthrie also specifically noted that Flash is being replaced by Silverlight in Blockbuster’s MovieLink application.
One of reasons Microsoft is in a position to be able to take on Adobe’s Flash, which has an 11 year head start and nearly ubiquitous deployment, is the strength the company has in the enterprise. Microsoft has been able to lean on its corporate partners to score some high profile deployments of Silverlight very quickly, including at NBC, Netflix, AOL, Toyota, and Akamai. There aren’t many companies that could do that and push out a new plugin so quickly. (Google comes to mind as another who has the muscle to get it done — and Steve Gillmor recently suggested that they may actually be headed into the fray as well.)
Maybe now we can start selling silverlight apps / motion graphics, if the take up in the plugin in is much higher.