A few weeks ago Microsoft announced that their Silverlight platform was coming to the Xbox. Strangely they made this announcement at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, talking about Silverlights ability to deliver interactive advertising media. Whilst it can undoubtedly do this, I can’t help thinking that the advertising theme isn’t the whole story – if it is then it’s a huge waste of potential.
Here’s my thinking… If an update to Xbox firmware brings native support for Silverlight to the dashboard it opens up a huge amount of new functionality.
For one thing Silverlight would offer the Xbox a proven media streaming platform. Now this aspect may well be related to the advertising announcement. MS clearly want the Xbox to a platform for video streaming, whether that be though the Netflix linkup or their partnership with Sky in the UK. Silverlight could do the streaming and as well as tying in the context sensitive ads that the agencies would love. Past the ads though, MS’s streaming tech seems to work very well indeed – hence it’s use by many major sporting events like Wimbledon and the Olympics.
Silverlight would also automatically bring support for cool technology like the SeaDragon based DeepZoom and Photosynth. Whilst these may seem like eye candy, in the context of a living room they would work very well indeed, especially when combined with a Natal interface. I can imagine a panning around a photo album and zooming in and out of pictures all though gestures. I reckon it would really work.
But what else could it bring? How about an app store? I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I reckon the Xbox is crying out for one. Silverlight would offer a relatively lightweight environment for people to write small apps, and in the marketplace they have the makings of a system for monetising those apps. Now I could be talking nonsense, but I think that would be really exciting. The iPhone is a great platform, but I’d love to see what sort of things people would come up with given an Xbox and a big screen TV to play with. Hell I might even get the TED app I mentioned months ago! :)