Microsoft has given a sneak preview of the forthcoming Silverlight 4 as it plans to take on Flash in the video distribution market where Adobe's solution currently reigns supreme.
The fourth iteration of Silverlight is expected to be released in 2010 but it seems that the Beta presented at the International Broadcasting Conference in Amsterdam could cement Microsoft's position as Adobe's main rival.
Silverlight 4 will sport high-definition streaming of video content, enhanced interactivity, native multicast support as well as offline DRM capabilities thanks to the PlayReady copy protection solution.
Microsoft is banking on this to allow content producers to offer extras that are found on DVD and Blu-ray discs without the fear of losing control over their content.
Several high profile broadcasters have already signed with Microsoft and use Silverlight extensively. Frederic Vincent, business development manager of Canal+ said that Silverlight provides more accessibility and simplicity to their users.
The company has already signed a strategic partnership with Tesco to distribute what they call "Virtual DVDs".
Microsoft has also released IIS Media Services 3.0 which is, in a nutshell, an HTTP-based media delivery platform that can deliver either on demand content or live HD media at up to 1080p and integrates Playready content protection.
The solution, which comprises of a Device Porting, a PC Software development and a Server Software development kit paves the way for the smooth implementation of Silverlight 4 when it is released next year.
Microsoft has already said that it wants Silverlight to be present on half of computers worldwide. It is currently available only for PCs and for Macs. Silverlight should be available for mobile platforms as well although the official Microsoft Silverlight site gave us a 404 error.