Silverlight is the name of the newest Flash concurrent. Based on .NET, implemented by Microsoft and supported by the Expression Studio (a product, to produce Silverlight content), with a support for ASP.NET, AJAX and Language-Integrated Query (LINQ) this is a quite serious attempt from Microsoft to enter the web plugins generated content market and to make some concurrence to Adobe’s Flash. During the MIX’07 conference, Microsoft has announced the availability of the the alpha and beta versions of the Silverlight for both Windows and Os X. Time will tell how popular it will get, with a Microsoft marketing machine behind it, there are no doubts, that this year there will be enough Silverlight content around the web.
Microsoft will probably get support of the open source community, especially those who are implementing MONO for other operating systems, like Linux. Miguel de Icaza, chefe developer of the MONO already thinks about implementation on Linux – should this happened, this may make a lot of things really interesting and different. MONO is expecting to deliver the first beta of Silverlight for Linux late this year (2007). One of the essential parts of flash success is its availability for all major operating systems, and since Silverlight already made a move from Windows to Os X, this is a very big and essential part of conquering the market, because a very big amount of the web developers are working on Os X. A good idea in distribution for them would be inclusion and integration of the Silverlight into the new Microsoft Office for Mac, and i have few doubts that they are already working on that. This way Silverlight distribution will achieve a very high percentage on Macintosh in a very short amount of time.
If it is going to be the way it is written, then Microsoft has found a new way to substitute some of the ActiveX content (in the sense of windows-based content but all other systems to be supported in the future) and a reasonable alternative to offer the market in order to gain some bigger market share.
The other question is will the Flash give up any part of the share to Silverlight, and what will Adobe do – turning Flash open source ? Does it sound like a browser wars from the last century, when Netscape made Navigator free and then open source ? They do not have a lot of options as it seems to me, but they do have quite a big fan base which will see have to face the Microsoft developers fan base, and there will be a lot of heat and discussions on the web, but in the next couple of years i do not believe in any big changes in the current situation.