NBC, NFL Deal Puts Adobe One More Step Back

Quietly, a sleeping giant has been evolving. That sleeping giant is Silverlight, a Microsoft rich media technology to rival Adobe’s Flash/Flex platform.

On this date, July 28, there is a dearth of Silverlight content on the web. Almost all the major video sites use Flash players, with Hulu, an NBC property, being a probable exception. However, that is about to change.

NBC Universal is a partner with Microsoft, and the two have collaborated to produce properties such as MSNBC among other joint ventures. In just a short week from now, the next generation of the Microsoft-NBC Universal partnership will unfold before an international audience. NBC’s coverage of the Olympics will be live streamed over the internet using Microsoft Silverlight technology.

I’ve talked to people recently who have discussed the Silverlight platform in the context of competition with Adobe and the ubiquity of Flash. The consensus is that Flash will be here for awhile yet, but as more and more adoption of Silverlight occurs, the Flash footprint could wane significantly. Developers need reason to use a new technology and with the absence of such reason, the status quo will remain.

That reason could very well be the widespread success, if it is a success, of the Olympic coverage on Olympics.com.

But wait, there’s more.

Silicon Alley Insider reported yesterday that an announcement would be made announcing NBC live coverage of Sunday Night Football during the 2008 season over the web. That’s right. Streaming games, multiple camera angles, instant in-home replay, statistics and more.

Which platform is poised to leverage this astonishing about-turn from NFL press mongers? You got it… Silverlight.

Why would NBC invoke any other technology than Silverlight to render rich media content over the web when the technology is quite possibly powering Hulu-powered television and quite possibly about to be a rousing success at the Olympics.

As a side note, the NFL about face on the use of the internet is interesting. Those who have read this site for a long time recall the video podcast that I did from Ravens training camp that was shut down. The video is in my archives if you want to go looking. It’s quite funny, actually.

The NFL is calling this a one year experiment to determine the interest in viewers engaging and consuming their content in non-traditional ways. I look forward to the report that rubber stamps what we’ve known for quite some time: online video consumption, live and otherwise, is replacing televisions in homes across America.

Update: as noted frequently in comments, Hulu is not powered by Silverlight but Flash.

Update 2: So Silverlight was seen as a huge fail and NBC has gone with Flash for their SNF coverage.

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Surprises

This is a guest post from Andrew Feinberg who is a journalist working in Washington, D.C. covering the technology policy discussions occurring on Capitol Hill. He works for Washington Internet Daily published by Warren News

6:30am – alarm

7:00am – stop ignoring the alarm

7:35am – dressed and out to subway

8:10am – arrive at Capitol, eat a bagel.

10:00am – Leave press office, go to hearing room.

DC is a big small town. You see the same cast of characters every day, except of course for the interns, who think they truly run the place.

Which makes surprises even more fun. For instance, sitting down and seeing Kara Swisher across from you at the press table. Wearing a T-Shirt and Jeans.

Why? Kara has been covering technology forever…

…from San Francisco.

Kara and I were both there to cover the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee’s hearing on the Google-Yahoo advertising deal (aka GooHoo). Why was this so special?

A) Kara is from SF. She doesn’t see this stuff every day. She’s not jaded.

B) She’s a blogger. For Dow Jones, but a blogger nonetheless. She doesn’t have to be “objective.”

C) It shows people are starting to care. Less than a month after I get Robert Scoble to come to DC for some interviews, we get another great tech blogger to actually cover a Senate hearing.

More, please.

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The Problem Microsoft Created: Mac Office 2008

msofficemac.pngAbout a year and a half ago, I made the switch to Mac and I have not looked back. To this day, I feel confused when I go into Windows (XP or Vista) even though I used to support XP for Northrop Grumman.

When I made the switch, I was very much used to Office 2003 (I was coming from a Windows world!) so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mac Office 2004 was included on my new Macbook Pro. I used the 30 day free trial and then bought a full license. However, I got frustrated after a bit by the sluggishness and the prone nature of Office 2004 to crash.

For those of you following along at home, this was because Office 2004 was never redone for Intel processors (or as we in Intel Mac world like to say, there was no Universal binary). It was built for the old PowerPC architecture and so the underlying code was not optimized for zippier, more threaded architecture. Yes, I know I’m getting geeky here.

So anyway, I went out and bought iWork ’06. I switched to native Apple apps all around. Instead of Entourage (Outlook for you Window users!) for calendaring, contact management and Email – I switched to Mail.app, Address Book, and iCal. Instead of Microsoft Word, I used Pages. Instead of Powerpoint, I used KEynote. The only thing I was missing was an Excel replacement – so I kept Office Mac 2004 around. In fact, at that point, I would have still bought Microsoft Office simply because I needed Excel.

That all changed in iWork ’08. Numbers was added giving me a full featured spreadsheet. Keynote got better. Pages rocked. There was no reason to use Microsoft Office anymore. So I didn’t. I uninstalled (Read: I just dragged it to the trash can. Forget about the Add/Remove programs nonsense).

Now the difference between iWork and MS Office is minimal for most users. It’s not a lightweight poser. The apps are full featured and is compatible with MS Office. Office probably still offers additional perks that iWork doesn’t have. It’s always had way more features than anybody else.

Now, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is out and it really does look good. The problem is there is no free demo. Since I bought Office 2004, I am eligible for the upgrade price of $239.95.

Here’s the problem. iWork ’08 costs $79. I own iWork ’08. For me, buying it was a no-brainer. But assume for a moment that I did not own it. I could try it out. Apple offers a 30 day free trial of iWork ’08. Microsoft trial of Microsoft Office 2008. Nah, sucka!

Which is odd.

Because Microsoft still offers a free trial of Office 2007 for Windows, it does not seem to be decision of corporate intent. It just seems that the Mactopia people are tone deaf.

If the MBU people at Microsoft were smart, they would recognize that NOT offering a 30-60 day trial of their product is tantamount to Product suicide. Hey, your main competitor is giving their product away for 30 days and the total cost of ownership is $79. Microsoft Office is way more expensive and, let’s face it, more Mac users are inclined to use Apple products than Microsoft so they should be doing whatever they can to get crossover customers.

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