Has Microsoft Extinguished Silverlight?

from the dying-embers dept

Remember Silverlight? That was Microsoft’s attempt to take on Adobe Flash. There was plenty of attention paid to it when it launched, but it faded off the map pretty quickly, and that slow fade has only continued to the point that some are speculating that it’s now dead. While not the strongest source, an anonymous comment in a forum devoted to Microsoft employees talking about Microsoft has noted that his team was told to stop using Silverlight and focus on HTML 5. It really is quite stunning how little traction Silverlight got over the past few years, and it seems like it certainly could be in Microsoft’s best interests to give up the ghost on it.

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Companies: microsoft

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Comments on “Has Microsoft Extinguished Silverlight?”

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mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your post is clueless flame-bait. Please find out what they are doing with a technology before posting your ignorance. FYI, flash is an Activex plugin running a derivitive of javascript. Silverlight is a .NET assembly running byte-code or compiled. The fact is, both technologies are falling by the wayside thanks to HTML5.
An alternative to flash WAS a good idea. Activex sucks! It’s just that HTML5 killed the demand.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: silverlight

You are assuming that Windows Phone 7 OS will be a huge success. I rather doubt it at so many levels. Even the name of the OS is wrong. Is Windows Phone 7 OS – Windows 7 running on a phone if so why or if not why not? It is very confusing. It is too little too late. Even Blackberry’s latest OS is losing traction.
The innovations are moving WAY too fast for Microsoft to continue to play catch up. The problems lies a the CEO level.
I remember when Ballmer used to ridicule running applications on a browser and now he is playing catch up. I remember when Ballmer ridiculed running a browser on a phone. Now he is playing catch up. etc, etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: silverlight

I don’t think anyone assumes that it’ll be a success. It’s obvious that MS is not killing Silverlight if it’s using it on it’s latest OS offering, though. I don’t see Microsoft treating WP7 as something they’re willing to kill quickly (most of this year’s PDC is fully dedicated to it). So no, Silverlight is pretty much alive, and it will be for a few years.

mravinale says:

Silverlight Rocks!

speculating, just speculating, is the main languaje and markup for WP7. seriously do you believe that?, I think is easier to believe that there people with fear about WP7 and Silverlight on the web, have you seen LightSwitch?http://www.microsoft.com/visualstudio/en-us/lightswitch, find your self the road trip and plans of Microsoft and the web, don’t take gossips for granted.

JackSombra (profile) says:

Let’s see, new version of Visual Studio, made completely in WPF, of which Silverlight is a subset.
New version of .NET, tons of silverlight enhancements (probably more than any other part of .NET
New tool for creating Silverlight app’s (lightswitch) released as beta…hmm yesterday?

Then you post as “news” some comment that MS are dumping Silverlight by an anonymous poster as news?

No doubt, in the wider web Silverlight is not doing well as MS would like, but within company’s where it is more about creating business applications instead of flashy animations/games it is rapidly and steadily gaining traction and for good reason as it is a lot better than flash for that type of stuff

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

the new version of visual studio, by the way, gaining literally zero adoption among my developer cohorts who have no use for its buggy, slow, ugly self. It will eventually gain adoption for some of its actually useful new features but this will come at the cost of stress, since it is a lumbering behemoth compared to 2008.

JohnForDummies (profile) says:

Silverlight is such a dream to develop with compared to Flash/Actionscript. Plus it’s less prone to crashing and is less of a resource hog than the flash player.

Silverlight is being used for Bing Maps, on the Azure platform, Windows Phone 7, Netflix… there’s speculation that Windows 8’s app store will favor Silverlight for rapid development and sandboxing.

Since the post was anonymous… we can only speculate on what department “alex__” works in, or if he/she is even a Microsoft employee. BUT, if I was Microsoft, and I was wanting to get more people using my web-based services, I would probably do the same thing and focus on HTML5/Javascript — How many mobile phones support Flash and/or Silverlight?


Re: Most Neflix streaming is done with something else.

> Silverlight is being used for Bing Maps, on the Azure platform, Windows Phone 7, Netflix…

…and Flash is used for everything else.

On the one hand, it actually supports platforms other than Windows. On the other, Adobe treats those other platforms like redheaded stepchildren.

Spuds (profile) says:

Re: Re:

John– thanks for this. It’s true that Silverlight is spreading like wildfire. Here’s the reason you don’t hear much about it:

It works.

It’s installed with your windows updates, kept up to date with your windows updates, doesn’t crash a hell of a lot (FAR more frequenly than flash, for me) and does a lot of things. Far more than just video.

It’s being ported to other operating systems (even if not necessarily as actual Silverlight) and has a heavy following in many places.

For a Microsoft product, it has a hell of a lot going for it, people love to develop with it, and some big companies (again, Netflix) are picking it up as their preferred delivery platform.

Anyway.. glad to see that someone else out there sees what is really going on with silverlight. 🙂

reboog711 (profile) says:

As a Flash Platform Developer...

This strikes me as drivel too, as others have stated.

As a [moderately prominent] Flash Platform developer, let me assure you that Silverlight is considered a viable platform for building Rich Internet Applications. Many “Flex/Flash” shops have also picked up Silverlight projects. I expect the platform will continue to become more prominent over time as penetration grows. Didn’t Microsoft rush through four versions of the player very quickly?

I’d hardly say Silverlight is quietly dying.

Gareth says:

All the links on the story linked to from here are about Microsoft ditching Ruby (thank goodness). What does that have to do with Silverlight?

Silverlight is a great way of having a zero-touch deploy mechanism for applications.

It may not gain universal acceptance for general websites like flash has but I don’t think that’s too important. In a large corporation where applications can be deployed with the minimum of configuration, SL has a lot to offer.

reboog711 (user link) says:

Re: I get the feeling the death will be slow and painful.

The technologies do benefit content creators though.

That said, there is a lot more to Flash and Silverlight than just video streaming. Even if the HTML5 Video tag dominates on-line video (which I suspect is likely to happen eventually) it is unlikely that would be the end of the need for Flash or Silverlight.

Anonymous Coward says:

# of internal corporate apps > # of public internet apps > # of shrink wrapped apps

There are thousands of .NET developers working on internal corporate apps that know WinForms. Some also know WPF. If your boss comes to you and says he needs a web deployed zero-install application to meet a business need and it needs to run on Windows desktop and a few Macs, then what do you think would be a better solution? An HTML4/5 with crappy Ajax and tougher to debug client-side javascript or a robust .NET based environment with great debugging capabilities and a great toolset?

Rosedale (profile) says:

It was too limited

The biggest problem that Silverlight had compared to Adobe and certainly compared to HTML5 was that is was to closely tied to Windows. Sure they did get it out to Mac, but Linux was always a hack. In the world of the web and as a web developer you want to hit more than just a sliver of your audience, this is why streaming has moved away from real audio and wma. You don’t want to be tied to those services or to a subset, if large, of machines.

When MS launched silverlight it was defective right from the start because it was limited whereas Adobe can be installed on just about any machine. IMO I think that MS didn’t have the good faith that Adobe had either. People were hesitant to be tied to the behemoth and were likely waiting for critical adoption before taking the plunge. Anyway I’ll be happy to see it go. I hope Netflix drops it and decides to add Linux support soon.

Leviathant (profile) says:

HTML5 will not replace Flash nor Silverlight

While you certainly can make pretty shapes in a canvas tag, the implementation of audio in HTML5 is abysmal at best. I’m learning this in great detail as I futz around with emulating a specific drum machine in HTML5 and Javascript.

The notion that HTML5 will replace Flash (or Silverlight) is like saying HTML5 will replace JPGs.

Rosedale (profile) says:

Re: HTML5 will not replace Flash nor Silverlight

I agree that HTML 5 isn’t ready, and my never be, to replace Flash for all a web programmers needs. For one HTML is to slow to implement new things. It takes to long. So I see Flash sticking around for a good long while because they can make changes and adapt to the changing internet much faster. But Flash will be replaced for things like streaming movies and audio, and where able it will subplant Flash on those things.

Where silverlight failed was by not being cross compatible on every browser, every machine on the internet. And by not offering enough of a differentiator from Flash to begin with. Why switch?

Ned Nedson says:

HTML5 to arrive in 2012

Microsoft is killing Siverlight off and that is why they are having a track on it at DevConnections in November and why it is the platform for Windows Phone. And since Hickson at TechRepublic has says we can expect the HTML5’s full implementation in 2022 it is just around the corner.
(I’m being facetious)

Anonymous Coward says:

The article is bogus. MS just released Silverlight 4.
Windows Phone 7 is silverlight, and is releasing this fall.

Netflix uses silverlight because it doesn’t have the memory leaks of flash.

Personally I am all for HTML 5, but that won’t kill silverlight. There is too much that can be done in Silverlight that cannot be done in HTML 5. Maybe this will change in HTML 6.

Bottom line, if you believe this dribble, you are a sucker.

Billy says:

The trouble with the HTML 5 route is that it continues to exploit and extend something that was never meant to be used the way it is currently being used. HTML markup was primarily designed for static content. It has unfortunately evolved into a mess of hacks that represent a good portion of some of the newest, coolest websites out there today (including facebook/twitter).

Today’s web development tends to get very messy, dealing with the mismatch of server-side languages communicating with client-side languages across a non-abstracted HTTP protocol that are interacting with HTML and CSS markup. It gets especially messy in this day and age with the use (and abuse) of AJAX in web applications as we attempt to further bend HTML to be more dynamic. Many web frameworks exist for the single purpose of abstracting the various common hacks away from the developer- one specific example is the browser history “fix” for AJAX applications, where a hidden embedded iframe is used with hash updates to track history, simply to ensure the back button will still “work”. The typical web application, even with HTML5, will still have these fundamental problems, where developers need to be experts in many disciplines, and have to deal with error-prone, fragile, inconsistent and in many cases, just plain hacky code. While HTML5 does add some very innovative enhancements, the HTML standard in general fails to address these fundamental issues as it continues to extend this technology. The most significant consequence of this is the increased development time/effort which makes it difficult to get a site/application to market.

Silverlight addresses these issues, bringing Server-Client development both onto the same platform and providing better consistency and design throughout a typical web application. Beyond that, it aims to better separate design concerns from functionality with Expression Blend tools/XAML. Now this does come at an expense- you must have the Silverlight plugin installed to view the content, and something no one has mentioned, you can kiss any SEO goodbye if you’re using it on an internet website. The best payoff is the huge increase you get in productivity and turnaround time- my observation is that you can accomplish the same thing in Silverlight in nearly 1/4 of the time it takes to build a traditional web application with the same amount of developers.

This brings me to my conclusion. Both technologies will continue to exist, because they both serve different purposes. HTML5 will thrive in the internet world where SEO is critical, where it is unfortunately the current practice for web developers to be experts in all of these disciplines, and there are still many experts (myself included) willing to do the work. And it will likely continue to improve and continue to head in the right direction… but it’s not quite there yet, particularly when it comes to building web “applications”.

I believe Silverlight shines as the resounding winner when it comes to developing internal/corporate systems/applications where SEO isn’t a concern and it is more critical to have a rich experience, where it is critical to use a platform that promotes separation of concerns and ease of development practices (this is especially a concern when it comes to developing web “applications”), and especially where rapid development is key to getting software out to market.

That’s my observation and two cents after having been in the web development world for nearly 10 years. And BTW, we’re just finally starting to transition to Silverlight as our company begins to learn the benefits of it, and most of us who have been exposed to it understand these trade-offs, and will continue to use BOTH technologies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, Microsoft haters!

Compare http://www.StatOWL.COM‘s Silverlight, Flash & Webstandards news so you guys can finally stop deluding yourselves, will ya!?!

BTW.: The only good thing about HTML5 is SVG which is definietly one of the best standards defined ever.
And nice Adobe dropped it as soon as the

We should all hope that Silverlight gains it’s momentum as soon as possible so then that retarded JavaScript and ActionScript kindergarden coding and the neccessity of hacking the unconform implementations of it, finally can come to an end.

Billy says:

After using Silverlight for a bit, it’s clear that I’m wrong about SEO and Silverlight — it is possible to implement a good SEO strategy using the Javascript bridge, though it’s not “free” as it is in html and requires some extra development effort to get it, and would require some tricks for it to be effective. But this is good news for the traditionally SEO invisible browser plugins.

Although the initial adoption of Silverlight was slow, I believe Silverlight is quickly gaining traction and we will begin seeing it throughout the internet sooner than we all think. It seems to have matured quite a bit since it’s inception, and Microsoft has also recently decided to toss WPF in favor of Silverlight which will only help speed up it’s progression.

don randolph says:

I WAS going to migrate our app, but not now

Idiots. I’m just grateful they let the cat out of bag before I committed our UI team to port to Silverlight. I’m so pissed at their incompetence. I am no fan of Adobe, but I swear Microsoft is making them look good by comparison. Microsoft could not do more to help the HTML 5 cause than this. At least now I know how to proceed.

Trollicus says:

Silverlight is dead on desktops

Ms has relegated Silverlight to a development platform for Mobile technology according to the Head of the Silverlight development project.

Bob Muglia, Microsoft?s SVP of the Server and Tools Business :?Our strategy has shifted,?
?Silverlight is our development platform for Windows Phone,?

He went on to say:

?HTML is the only true cross platform solution for everything, including (Apple?s) iOS platform,? Muglia

That’s why IE9 is pushing to be fully HTML5 capable. Even NBC dropped silverlight and netflix is creating it’s own delivery app based upon x.264

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