About Microsoft Silverlight
Microsoft Silverlight is a RIA(Rich Internet Applications) framework built by Microsoft. It serves as an alternative to Adobe’s Flash player but has a significantly less market and adoption among both developers and customers.
Silverlight plugin is available for major browsers as they help parse and run Silverlight content just like the Flash Player.
During its initial release, Microsoft Silverlight supported media streaming while later on programmatic access through the .NET Framework allowed developers to create engaging and rich interfaces for Web, Desktop and Mobile devices.
Windows Phone had extensive support for Silverlight however browser vendors had to include the Silverlight Plugin to display content.
With the demise of the Windows Phone, the environment and content created with Silverlight also faded away due to lack of support and inconsistencies across browsers.
Features and Application
Microsoft Silverlight packed numerous features that attracted developers to build interactive experiences on the platform.
- Smooth Streaming: enables streaming media across platforms through adaptive and on-demand processes that allows users to view quality content regardless of the network or device they are using. This is one of the primary reasons Amazon Prime Video and Netflix adopted Silverlight for their respective streaming services.
- PivotViewer: helps view data from across the web in easily navigable and highly reliant interfaces allowing developers to implement simple and highly performant views to their customers regardless of the platform they use.
- SketchFlow: helps developers build quick prototypes of applications and interactive media yet to be built on the Silverlight platform.
- Deep Zoom: help you zoom into anything with smooth transitions and framerates.
- Pixel Shader: helps developers create blur and drop shadow effects that can be programmed to animate based on user interaction. This helps provide depth to objects and create immersive experiences on the Silverlight platform.
- 3D Graphics: allows developers to build 3D content while animating them to build virtual worlds with interaction and other necessary features to increase user engagement.
- Skins & Styles: helps you create beautiful graphics and apply them to controls and elements on the development platforms. This greatly helps create unified interfaces for animation, multimedia and gaming.
Adoption And Demise
Due to the underlying .NET framework, Silverlight was quite easily adopted by developers even in its early days and reached upto 64.2% market penetration.
However due to lack of numerous features and the challenge of programmatic development hindered its growth overtime.
Adobe’s Flash however gained more than 90% of the market share due to its early presence and higher adoption rate mainly driven by its suite of development environment readily available for developers to build sophisticated applications and interactive interfaces.
Silverlight gained its market share when Amazon Prime Video and Netflix used the platform to stream videos to their target audiences.
But Netflix migrated to HTML5 in 2013 when microsoft announced End-Of-Life for Silverlight and related platforms.
The demise of the platform was predicted by industry observers since 2011 and in 2012 Microsoft deprecated Silverlight in favor of HTML5 in Windows 8 operating systems.
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