Microsoft Silverlight Gets a High Profile Win: 2008 Beijing Olympics

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NBC announced today that they are working with Microsoft and MSN to build NBCOlympics.com. That announcement alone is a snoozer. What’s interesting is that they’ll be using the Microsoft Silverlight platform to “deliver deeply immersive user experiences.”

The partnership was announced by Bill Gates at the CES keynote this evening in Las Vegas. The new site will host 2,200 hours of live event video coverage, with more than 20 simultaneous live video streams at peak times. An additional 3,000 hours of on-demand video will be available, including full event replays and highlights.

Silverlight will be used for an “enhanced playback mode” and will allow full screen viewing “that is as good or better than anything on the Internet today.” There will also be metadata overlays that enable viewers to additional content like results, statistics, bios, rules and expert analysis.

This is good news for Microsoft and their nascent Silverlight platform. What I want to know is how much Microsoft paid NBC to use this. It’s highly unlikely they chose it without an additional nudge. Testing a new platform at the Olympics carries significant risk. And since no one really uses Silverlight yet, this will require millions of people to download the Silverlight framework before they can use the advanced features of the site.

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