Silverlight tapped to stream Obama's inauguration

It will be used Tuesday on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's Web site

Microsoft Corp.'s Silverlight technology has been chosen to stream President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony live on the Presidential Inaugural Committee's Web site, the company said on Friday.

Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden are due to be sworn in and deliver inauguration speeches at noon on Tuesday in Washington. Both events will be streamed live on the Inaugural Committee site using Silverlight, a cross-browser technology for delivering live and on-demand video over the Web.

Obama was elected Nov. 4 as the first African-American U.S. president, giving Tuesday's inauguration particular historical significance.

IStreamPlanet Co., an online content-delivery company in Las Vegas, is working with Microsoft to stream the event, Microsoft said.

The inaugural event is the latest high-profile use of Silverlight, which was first released in April 2007 as a rival to Adobe Flash. The technology comprises a tool for developing and designing Internet applications and a media player for delivering content.

It wasn't until the release of Silverlight 2 in October, however, that the technology became a viable alternative to Flash for building rich Internet applications (RIA), developers said.

"Silverlight 1.0 was a glorified media player," said Ben Dewey, a senior software developer at IT consulting firm Twentysix New York who has worked with Silverlight. "The release of Silverlight 2 is when it really took off."

While Silverlight 2 was in beta in August, the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee used it to stream proceedings from the convention, including Obama's acceptance speech to more than 80,000 people at an outdoor stadium in Denver.

Microsoft also teamed up with U.S. television network NBC that month to deliver thousands of hours of both live and on-demand coverage from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

Silverlight has had its bumps in the road, however. The first high-profile user, Major League Baseball Advanced Media LP's MLB.com site, dropped the technology in November and signed a two-year deal to use Adobe Flash for streaming live baseball games.

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