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Microsoft touts media business gains with Silverlight

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Microsoft chose the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show 2008 in Las Vegas to announce new customers for its Silverlight rich-media player and introduce software aimed at broadcasters.

It also detailed SilverlightDRM, a content protection system based on Microsoft’s PlayReady technology, which is set to be available later this year with Silverlight 2.

The digital rights management, or DRM, software will work with streamed, progressive download, and downloadable media, and it can be extended by third-party software companies, Microsoft said.

Microsoft is trying to make Silverlight the preferred medium to broadcast video on the Web–a challenge, given the resounding lead that Adobe Systems has with Flash.

Microsoft said 1.5 million people a day are downloading Silverlight. Adobe claims that more than 90 percent of Web users are already using the current version of the Flash Player.

New Silverlight customers include Madison Square Garden (MSG) Interactive, Chinese Web portal Tencent, Abertis Telecom, and Terra Networks Operations. Other notable recent customers include NBCOlympics.com and Yahoo Japan.

While they woo content producers, both companies are also battling over software developers. The millions of programmers trained in Microsoft’s .Net tools can write rich Internet applications with Silverlight. Adobe, too, is boosting up its tools investment around Web toolkits and Flex.

Also at NAB, Microsoft announced enhancements to products aimed at broadcasters.

Microsoft and Ascent Media Group have formed a partnership to automate the supply chain for the entertainment industry. It also said Microsoft executives will show off versions of its Dynamics packaged applications customized for the media customers at NAB.

Microsoft also added features to its Interactive Media Manager application, which is built on SharePoint Server, including a Silverlight rough-cut video editor and an enhanced searchable media catalog.

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