Silverlight 2 and the Olympics

August 7, 2008
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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?