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Services Win Day At Mix Conference

Microsoft touts its Silverlight multimedia Web technology
Ray Ozzie emerged from his PR cocoon last week to tout Microsoft's Silverlight multimedia Web technology. In a keynote address at Microsoft's Mix conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft's chief software architect talked broadly of plans to blend PC software and Internet services, though he continued to be vague about how exactly that would happen, or when.

Talk of a

Talk of a "services platform"
"What we're building is a services platform, an open, interoperable foundation for software plus services that will make it possible for you to build, deploy, and manage service-centric solutions that span the Web, the PC, the phone, and ultimately many other kinds of devices," Ozzie said.

Microsoft introduced APIs that developers can use to let their applications interact with services such as Windows Live Spaces, Virtual Earth, and Live Search. The APIs, in Ozzie's words, make Microsoft's Web services "syndicatable."

He described Silverlight as "one of those foundational investments that we've been working on for quite a while in the area of software and services." Mix attendees seemed to like what they saw of Silverlight. Even a senior product manager for competitor Adobe Systems called Microsoft's announcements "very impressive." Web site designers and developers expressed approval that Silverlight runs on the Mac and includes support for popular non-Microsoft programming languages.

Still, a week of hype doesn't a Flash-killer make. And though Microsoft announced availability of its Expression Studio design toolset, that was premature. The software handed out at Mix included only release candidates of two of the suite's four components. A final release is due any day.

Silverlight usage will rely on content--and content on tools. Only when the content begins flowing can we fully evaluate just how important Silverlight might be.