Microsoft’s Silverlight Platform Focused On Lowering Cost Of Content Creation & Delivery

There’s been a lot of coverage so far about Microsoft’s announcement this week of Silverlight and we’ll be hearing even more from Microsoft in the coming weeks from their MIX event. Of all the coverage I have read about Silverlight, few have really mentioned how Microsoft is marketing Silverlight as a cheaper platform to create and delver content with. While cost is not always the most important factor when it comes to content creation and delivery, cost does always play into the overall decision of what platform(s) content creators will support.

From Microsoft employee Sean Alexander’s blog, "Silverlight will address the rising costs of creation and rich media delivery in two key ways- providing a consistent set of tools for development and design teams building applications for the Web and Windows, and support for lower cost of delivery of audio and video experiences when used with Windows Media streaming".

The cost of content creation and delivery is a big factor and potentially a big advantage for Silverlight for a few reasons. The major reason Windows Media grabbed so much market share over the RealNetworks platform years back was that Windows Media was cheaper to deliver than Real. Content delivery networks had to charge customers more to deliver content in the Real format to cover their licensing costs of the Real server, just like they have to do today when delivering Flash streaming. Windows Media server was free, the Real server software was not. With Microsoft announcing that the new Windows Server, codename "Longhorn" will delivery twice the scalability than Windows Server 2003, it means delivery networks will be able to deliver even more content than Flash at an even cheaper costs.

While the higher cost of creating and delivering in Flash over Windows Media has not stopped too many in the past, it has stopped some content creators from wanting to spend two to three times more just to use the Flash streaming format. And the ones who do pay the extra cost to use Flash streaming, have been happy to do so as Flash gives their users an experience Windows Media couldn’t. But if that quickly changes with Silverlight and both platforms begin to offer the same type of user experience, I expect cost will play an ever bigger factor than it has in the past as to what platform(s) content owners will choose.

In my eyes, cheaper cost to create and deliver content means more adoption and consumption of content which equals a faster growing industry with more successful content business models. If Silverlight truly does allow content owners to create, encode and deliver content faster and cheaper while providing the same if not better user experience than Flash streaming, then Microsoft is going to have the advantage in the long run.