Silverlight logo
Or is it just an oncoming train of confusion as the rich content wars loom ever closer in the realms of the ‘personal web’? Nokia and Microsoft have signed a deal to ensure SilverLight, Microsoft’s touted Flash-killer app.

Reminds me of a similar struggle Adobe had when trying to push InDesign over QuarkXpress a few years back. I was then one of those early adopters, transitioning into multi-media, I was sold by the concept buying a new package that would seamlessly integrate with Photoshop and Illustrator for half the price of a Quark upgrade – it was indeed tempting. The reality was a very painful experience and productivity was seriously hampered. Under pressure I still reverted back to the devil-I-know Quark when up against deadlines.

I dare to say SilverLight will meet with the same fate, and possibly more so as from what I have hear it is a very developer-focussed piece of software which won’t serve graphical people well initially, and for the creative people uptake may well be the equivalent of pushing a truck up a hill with the brakes on. After all, Microsoft is not exactly revered amongst creative professionals for its innovative software – the PC / Mac debate still rages high after a couple of beers in Soho – and with an investment of time and money into one technology, why should anyone bother re-learning the wheel?

The answer does indeed lie in the cross-media authoring, such as mobile.

Look at like this. Rich media and video go hand-in-hand. Money and TV go hand-in-hand. Dynamically inserting adverts in real-time against content; whether on web, mobile or TV is the possibility of the near future. But what about the media players themselves? Whereas mobile may well be adopting both Flash and SilverLight – the latter is built upon the same kernel architecture as Windows Media that has allowed any PC to play video since Windows 98. IPTV and set-top boxes are mostly cut-down versions of PC’s and so, in theory, the uptake of ‘future-proof’ interactive video on these devices will be easier for SilverLight to establish a user base of then Flash. Companies exploring the delivery of IPTV content and its related advertising have already taken note and are active partners with Microsoft in this space based on this logic. Adobe may have software installation, but Microsoft has a media distribution network too alongside an envious video codec installation base to merely upgrade.

Do you really think the home is ready to download a plethora of codecs and players just to be able to watch TV? (Sorry BBC – yes, you may very well have just wasted £1.3M on developing your iPlayer!) Microsoft TV may very well become a huge force to be reckoned with over the next few years as IPTV gains momentum. Certainly both Google and Microsoft have their eye on delivering real-time dynamic adverts onto your TV set judging by their billions of dollars investment into advertising technology – bear in mind 40% of rich media ads already contain video. And whilst you are watching TV, you have a mobile right next to you… if not a laptop on your knee. Yes, cross-channel advertising is very much on the agenda.

Time will tell, but even if designers make kick-up a fuss about re-learning an animation authoring tool, the chance for them to working on some exciting interactive TV adverts served on a plethora of devices (and attract the same budgets as TV producers) is too big a coup for the to dismiss out of hand – and that coming train – well you may find more designers then you think just hop-on board.

“Tickets please…”