Microsoft Silverlight


Microsoft Silverlight is a deprecated web application framework developed by Microsoft, which enabled the creation of interactive, rich multimedia experiences on web browsers. Launched in 2007, Silverlight was intended as a competitor to Adobe Flash, featuring support for graphics, animation, video streaming, and interactivity. Support for Silverlight has largely been discontinued, and it was officially declared end of life in 2021.

Key Takeaways

  1. Microsoft Silverlight was a web application framework designed for creating rich internet applications that provided functionalities similar to Adobe Flash, including multimedia, graphics, and interactivity in a single runtime environment.
  2. As a browser plugin, Silverlight was compatible with multiple web browsers and operating systems, facilitating development of cross-platform applications with support for .NET programming languages like C# and VB.NET.
  3. Microsoft announced the end of Silverlight support in 2021, and it has been gradually replaced by more modern web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript. As a result, developers are advised to consider transitioning to these newer technologies for better performance and compatibility.


Microsoft Silverlight is important because it was a cutting-edge technology designed to provide rich, interactive web experiences and enhanced multimedia content delivery.

Launched in 2007, Silverlight was widely adopted for building and deploying web applications, streaming videos, and creating games, as it offered a lightweight alternative to other web development technologies like Adobe Flash.

During its heyday, it enabled developers to create highly responsive, visually appealing web applications through the integration of vector graphics, video and animation, utilizing a single runtime environment.

Though Microsoft has discontinued Silverlight and web technologies have evolved, it remains a relevant software development milestone in the history of web-based applications and interactive media.


Microsoft Silverlight, introduced in 2007, is a robust platform used primarily to create and deliver rich web content, such as interactive applications, multimedia streaming, and graphics, for a more immersive and user-friendly browsing experience. Built as a competitor to Adobe Flash, Silverlight aimed to provide developers with an extensive set of innovative tools for designing and broadening the capabilities of websites.

Developed using the .NET framework, the platform quickly gained popularity due to its compatibility with multiple web browsers, devices, and operating systems. In addition to its capability to stream high-quality video and audio, Microsoft Silverlight equipped developers with deep zoom, vector-based graphics, and comprehensive integration with data sources, paving the way for more interactive and easy-to-use applications.

Over the years, many industries, including media broadcasters and streaming services, employed Silverlight to develop and launch interactive portals, particularly for live events, such as sports or concerts. As web technologies advanced and HTML5 emerged, Microsoft Silverlight has gradually become less relevant and is no longer actively being developed.

Nevertheless, its lasting impact can be observed in the continued use of some of its core functionalities and ideas in modern web development.

Examples of Microsoft Silverlight

Microsoft Silverlight was once a popular web application framework that was used to create rich internet applications that provide an interactive user experience. Although it has now been deprecated, during its primetime, there were several real-world examples of its implementation:

Netflix: In its early days, Netflix used Microsoft Silverlight as their primary video streaming technology due to its digital rights management capabilities. Silverlight allowed Netflix to securely stream copyrighted content, ensuring that the videos could not easily be downloaded by unauthorized users. The streaming service has since transitioned to using HTML5 technology.

NBC Olympics: During the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, NBC utilized Microsoft Silverlight for their online video streaming platform. This platform allowed users to watch live and on-demand Olympic events with HD quality and a smooth playback experience. The adoption of Silverlight ensured seamless delivery of high-quality content with adaptive streaming, providing a great viewer experience.

Bing Maps: For a time, Microsoft’s Bing Maps made use of Silverlight technology for its web app to provide added interactivity and smoother performance for the users. The Silverlight-based Bing Maps provided an enhanced mapping experience with zoomable maps, draggable interface, and various map styles. Microsoft now relies on JavaScript and HTML5 technologies for Bing Maps.

Microsoft Silverlight FAQ

What is Microsoft Silverlight?

Microsoft Silverlight is a deprecated application framework developed by Microsoft for creating and running rich internet applications. It is designed to be compatible with multiple web browsers on Windows and macOS. Silverlight uses XAML for the UI and can be controlled using programming languages such as C# or VB.NET.

Why did Microsoft develop Silverlight?

Microsoft developed Silverlight to compete with other popular platforms, like Adobe Flash, for delivering interactive web content and multimedia applications. Its purpose was to enable developers to create feature-rich, cross-platform web applications, offering a consistent experience in different browsers.

How does Silverlight work?

Microsoft Silverlight works by allowing developers to build and deploy web applications using the .NET framework, languages like C# or VB.NET, and XAML for the UI. Users must install a browser plugin to view the Silverlight content. Once installed, the plugin allows the user’s browser to execute the Silverlight applications, which run within a sandbox for added security.

Which platforms and browsers support Silverlight?

Although Silverlight was initially supported on multiple browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari, most of these browsers no longer support the plugin as it has been deprecated. Currently, only Internet Explorer 11 on the Windows platform officially supports Silverlight.

What are the alternatives to Silverlight?

Since Microsoft has deprecated Silverlight, various alternatives have arisen to fill the gap created. Some popular alternatives include HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS3 for building web applications or user interfaces. For complex web applications, frameworks such as Angular, React, or Vue.js have become popular choices.

Is it safe to install and use the Silverlight plugin?

Microsoft ended active support for Silverlight in 2021, which means that no new updates are being released. While you can still use the plugin on some browsers, it’s recommended to avoid using it due to potential security vulnerabilities and lack of support and updates from Microsoft.

Related Technology Terms

  • Rich Internet Application (RIA)
  • XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language)
  • .NET Framework
  • Deep Zoom
  • Expression Studio

Sources for More Information

  • Microsoft – As the creator of Silverlight, Microsoft provides the official source for information and support related to the technology.
  • Microsoft Docs – Comprehensive documentation, guides, and resources related to Silverlight and other Microsoft products can be found on the Microsoft Docs website.
  • Stack Overflow – A popular platform where developers can ask and answer questions, Stack Overflow provides community-generated solutions and discussions related to various Silverlight topics.
  • CodeProject – A large online community for developers, CodeProject features numerous articles, tutorials, and sample projects related to Silverlight and other software development technologies.

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