Microsoft to launch YouTube competitor

11 Jun 2007

Microsoft is working with other companies to develop a YouTube-like video-sharing site, has learned.

Speaking at the Irish Microsoft Technology conference, organised by, Tim Sneath, group manager for the Silverlight developer team at Microsoft, said: “We’ve tried to take it to a different level; we want to enable scenarios like delivering 720p broadcast-quality video over the internet.”

Silverlight is a lightweight, cross platform, cross-browser, runtime for creating differentiated web experiences, or as Sneath said, for merging the new wave of rich internet applications (RIAs).

Silverlight means “being able to do the kind of things that would typically live outside the internet before using these modern technologies”, said Sneath.

Although compared to Adobe’s Flash when it was released in April, Sneath said: “We don’t see the market in terms of Silverlight versus Flash. This is about much more than that element to it.”

Whereas Flash is used mostly for banner ads, graphics, or basic videos, Silverlight is designed in a number of ways to be a mode of distributing content, said Sneath,

“We’ve tried to take it to a different level; we want to enable scenarios like delivering 720p quality, broadcast quality video over the internet,” he said.

Silverlight, due to its ability to deliver low-bandwidth consumption content with high resolution, is ideal for showcasing TV-quality streaming video. Microsoft is currently talking with various media companies on how to use this. Sneath said that BBC and CBS have already used Silverlight for their next-generation web portals.

“We’re working with large number of different partners, going after firms with large number of unique visitors a month, trying to figure out how to work with companies that want to deliver these rich internet experiences to their customers and have them take this technology and move it forward,” said Sneath.

Silverlight, he added, is also ideal for developing revenue-generating content through online advertising, where banner ads are no longer the order of the day. Non-intrusive, transparent ads can be seamlessly integrated into rich media content without disturbing the viewer through Silverlight technology, he claimed.

Silverlight has been well received among the web developer community in Ireland, with Sneath’s talks drawing a large crowd at the conference held in Cineworld on Thursday.

One of the demonstrations to showcase the power of Silverlight for RIAs involved a jigsaw puzzle made up of 70 different pieces of live video that could be manipulated and moved around.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with interest in Silverlight. Out of the 400 developers here today, about 300 were listening to the Silverlight presentation. What’s very attractive to people is just the power of what it can do,” Sneath said.

By Marie Boran