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Silverlight goes 1.0, adds Linux support

Microsoft's browser plug-in is ready. Here's a surprise: it works on Linux, too.

Microsoft released Silverlight 1.0 on Tuesday and said it has partnered with Novell to deliver a Linux version of the software.

In addition, Microsoft announced a number of consumer Web sites will use Silverlight to distribute video.

Silverlightis a cross-platform Web browser plug-in for displaying interactive Web applications and an alternative to Adobe's Flash Player, which has become the de facto standard for video on the Web.

Silverlight videos, starring on Entertainment Tonight. Microsoft

The Novell deal will result in a Linux version of Silverlight called Moonlight. Microsoft is also producing a version of Silverlight for Mac OS X.

The expanded platform support could help Microsoft in its plans to compete with Adobe's Flash, which is installed on nearly all PCs. To distribute Silverlight widely, Microsoft is relying on customers who have built media applications with it.

On Wednesday, the Home Shopping Network, World Wide Wrestling Entertainment, Entertainment Tonight, and will launch video features that use Silverlight, said Brian Goldfarb, a group product manager at Microsoft. Major League Baseball is already live with its online video broadcasts using Silverlight.

Many customers are adopting Silverlight because they already have their video encoded in the Windows Media format, Goldfarb said.

Another key part of Microsoft's Silverlight strategy is to rely on its development tools. Its Visual Studio programming tools and Expression-branded designer products ease collaboration between developers and Web designers, Goldfarb said.

Version 1.1 of Silverlight, which Microsoft announced at its Mix 07 conference in May, will be available next year, probably in the summer, he said. That version will have support for the .Net programming model used in Microsoft's development languages, including scripting languages.

With the Silverlight 1.0 release, Microsoft also intends to release Expression Encoder, a tool meant to make it easy to encode video for display on the Web with Silverlight.