Silverlight 2 and the Olympics

  • Aug 07, 2008 at 11:57 PM
  • Shawn Wildermuth


Silverlight Logo

Tomorrow the Olympics starts and for Silverlight 2 its a big deal. In case you've been under the rock, Microsoft announced at MIX '08 that it had an agreement with NBC to broadcast every minute of every event of the Olympics through a Silverlight 2 driven web site. Its big...really big.

As far as I am concerned, this is a big risk, big reward sort of scenario. Lets discuss reward first. This puts Silverlight 2 squarely in the eyes of lots of end-users. This will help produce ubiquity of the Silverlight 2 runtime. This is going to get a lot of users to install the bits. But what's the risk? There are two risks:

  • Silverlight 2's Installation causes problems
  • Video Streaming can't scale

Installation issues may cause some end-user headaches, but hopefully it should be pretty smooth.  I don't think this will happen.  Video streaming on such a large scale is a bigger risk I think. Microsoft has been in this business a long, long time so I doubt its going to be an issue...but...if it doesn't scale correctly it will be bad.

The problem is that the actually streaming scalability has zero to do with Silverlight 2. Let me say that again, Silverlight 2 can play streamed video but if it doesn't scale, its not Silverlight 2's fault. Unfortunately, the next day it will be the TechCrunch's, CNet's and even Mary Jo's lead story.

As Silverlight 2 developers, we are in with Microsoft on this one.  If it succeeds, it will make the Silverlight 2 RTM that much bigger with more demand for the skills involved.  If it fails, it will be a scar on the face of Silverlight that will be hard to overcome.

I'll be watching with bated breath and clenched cheeks...will you?




AC Friday, August 8, 2008

Very good points. I've seen a number of install issues, and that's the main gripe I've heard several people bring up. I'm hoping this takes a serious swipe at Flash's ubiquity.

On a petty note, what are you clenching in those cheeks that makes your breath smell "baited"? ;) I think the word you're looking for is bated, short for abated.


Shawn Wildermuth Friday, August 8, 2008


Good catch...yes it should have been 'bated'. That's what happens when you let the monkey out of the bottle...


Giftex Blog Friday, August 8, 2008

Nice post. Btw did u know that the ancient Olympics captured the imaginations of the Greeks for more than a millennium until a Christianized Rome put a stop on the competitions in the fourth century AD. But the Olympic ideal did not die. Anyways which country do u think shall win the maximum gold medals?


Tom Friday, August 8, 2008

I tried the site last night for the first time. Video quality varied significantly, but when it was good, it was good. And the UI wasn't too bad. But the video doesn't scale, in the visual sense - what kind of "enhanced" video player 1) isn't resizable and 2) can't go full-screen? Ah well. Glad I'm not trying to watch it through a HTPC.


Andy Friday, August 8, 2008

Yeah, lots of install issues here. I had 2.0.30523.6 and had to peel everything off (tools, sdk, etc) to upgrade to 2.0.30523.8. I suppose I might be an edge case, though.

Is the silverlight_chainer.exe from 7/11 built for the 2.0.30523.8 update?


Shawn Wildermuth Friday, August 8, 2008


I agree about the lack of fullscreen support (which should have scaled)...wonder why they didn't. I like the experience of low/high/fullscreen experience.


Shawn Wildermuth Friday, August 8, 2008


I do agree with you that the upgrade for developers is still a messy story that hopefully will be addressed in RTM, but there is a .8 version of the chainer that should have the complete update.


Dave Monday, August 11, 2008

Trying to watch the 4x100 men's freestyle relay has taken me an hour, one crash each for Firefox and IE, and I still haven't seen the video. This sucks in a very big way. NBC appears to have made a stupid choice. Give me youtube...


Alan Cobb Sunday, August 17, 2008

There are several ways to get "full screen" behavior from the Olympics video player. The most popular is to download Firefox 3 and use its "zoom in" mode. IE7 has an issue which makes its "zoom in" mode inadequate. For more details please see my blog article at I also describe a CSS tweak you can use on IE7 to make the player go full screen.

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