It seems that while everyone was preoccupied with Adobe’s Flash making inroads into the mobile space, Microsoft was quietly at work developing their oft-forgotten Flash alternative, Silverlight, into a runtime for Symbian^1 (formerly known as S60 5th Edition) devices.
What this hefty (by Symbian standards) install brings you is both support for Silverlight-enabled sites in Symbian’s integrated browser, but also the prospect of installable apps for Symbian developed in Silverlight. The tools for development are available, so it’s all up to the developers now.
This is akin to how Flash Lite, currently installed by default on almost all Symbian devices to have shipped in the past few years, behaves. Although, aside from some nice themes and mainly UI-altering apps of some sort or the other, there didn’t seem to be much Flash Lite app development going on. Maybe Silverlight will face a brighter future, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Microsoft does promise live and on demand media content streaming using IIS Smooth Streaming including multiple bit rate switching, hardware assisted playback of H.264 content wrapped in Silverlight, rich UIs and .NET programmability.
Possible plans for Silverlight to be made available for iOS and Android devices are being kept under wraps at this point, so it’s anyone’s guess. Also, strangely, even if the upcoming WIndows Phone 7 operating system’s key development platform will be Silverlight, there will be no in-browser support for the runtime at launch.
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