VSLive!: Microsoft's Four Rich Client Platforms

SAN FRANCISCO -- Third-party developers and Microsoft project leaders this week showcased applications developed with Redmond's four rich client technologies: Windows Presentation Foundation, Silverlight, Windows 7 Touch and Surface.

In a keynote address at VSLive! Wednesday, Tim Huckaby kicked off a demo-heavy keynote with a 3D data visualization application developed by his company, InterKnowlogy, for a large hospital in Salt Lake City. Huckaby, one of the first MVPs and a former developer-architect at Microsoft, is an expert on Microsoft platforms.

He also showed a version of the application ported to the Microsoft's Surface, a multi-user, multi-touch technology that turns a specially designed table top into an interactive touch screen (see related story on the Surface).

"Of course, we're not supposed to say 'ported,'" Huckaby said. "It was re-imagined for Surface." The application is intended to let cardiologists and other health care practitioners access and annotate electronic health care records with 3D renderings of the heart.

The source code for InterKnowlogy's 3D engine is available for free from the company Web site here (PDF).

Huckaby brought cancer researcher Dr. Peter Kuhn to the stage to demo the software he is currently using in his work at The Scripps Research Institute. The software, a WPF application built in C# by InterKnowlogy, is a 3D Molecule Viewer. He also showed a Surface version called the Collective Molecular Environment (CME).

"There's only one customer I know of who ever stood up to Microsoft and that's Dr. Peter Kuhn" Huckaby said. "He went live with this application eons before Windows Vista shipped, and the Windows team was not pleased."

Smooth Streaming
Looking to show other rich client technologies, Huckaby was joined by Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, and the company's VP of services, Mike Hanley, who demonstrated Microsoft's Live Streaming technology used to stream content from the Democratic National Convention live to the Internet. They also demo'd an application based on the newly announced "smooth streaming" capability in Silverlight, which Microsoft announced in October and released to beta on Monday.

"Smooth streaming" was developed by Microsoft with Cambridge, Mass.-based distributed computing platform provider Akamai Technologies. The HTTP-based smooth streaming technology allows media companies to deliver high-quality video on-line. Coupled with IIS 7.0, smooth streaming enables instant startup times and no buffering through "adaptive streaming" on the Silverlight video platform.

Smooth streaming is available with the release of Microsoft's Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1, Stanfield said, which allows for the encoding of versions of a video file to an IIS server at various quality levels. When that file is requested, he explained, the server determines the highest-quality version to send based on the end user's connection, and then updates the bits that are sent as conditions change.

Currently, Microsoft's smooth streaming technology is only available for on-demand videos.

Because of the partnership, Akamai will be the first to market with IIS smooth streaming with a product, called Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight.

Stanfield used the Open Video Player for his demos. The Open Player Initiative, launched last year, is an effort to bring together the video publishing industry around a standardized video player. To date, the source code from the project has been used by online video provider Hulu and the National Basketball Association.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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