What was Microsoft Silverlight, and why was it retired?

Microsoft Silverlight was a highly capable development platform. However, it is no longer supported and is effectively defunct.
Christopher McFadden
What happened to Microsoft Silverlight?

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  • Microsoft Silverlight was a web application framework that allowed developers to create multimedia-rich and interactive web applications that could run on multiple platforms.
  • It was used to develop various applications, from video streaming services to desktop data entry and processing.
  • Despite its many capabilities, Silverlight has since been discontinued, and developers are now encouraged to use modern web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

If you want to know more about this now-defunct software framework or have no idea what it was/is, welcome to this short overview of Microsoft Silverlight and why its developer discontinued it.

So, without further ado, let's get started.

What was Microsoft Silverlight?

Microsoft Silverlight was a web application framework developed by Microsoft and released in 2007. It was made to be a platform for developing and deploying rich internet applications (RIAs) that could run on different web browsers and operating systems.

At the time of its release, Silverlight was a popular choice for developers who wanted to create rich web applications, especially for media streaming and interactive user interfaces. But since HTML5 has become more popular and can support multimedia and interaction, over time, Silverlight has been used less and less.

Silverlight was a good framework for its time and let developers make high-quality web apps. But because fewer and fewer people use it and modern web browsers don't support it, it's not usually recommended for new development.

Microsoft has discontinued Silverlight, and it is no longer supported.

If you have trouble downloading and installing an older website or web app, it could be because you are trying to use a website or web app made with Silverlight. Some older websites and web apps may have been made with Silverlight, and you may need to install them for them to work right.

However, since Silverlight is no longer supported, it's best to update or switch to newer web technologies.

Do you need Microsoft Silverlight?

In general, you do not need Microsoft Silverlight anymore, as it has been discontinued and is no longer supported by Microsoft. Most modern web browsers no longer support Silverlight, and many websites and web apps that used to use it have switched to other technologies.

Some older websites and web apps may still need Silverlight to work, but this is becoming less and less common. While likely uncommon, if you find you need to use Silverlight for a specific website or application, you can get around the issue by using an older version of a web browser that still supports Silverlight, or by running the website or application on a virtual machine that runs an older operating system and browser version.

Can I remove Microsoft Silverlight?

Yes, you can remove Microsoft Silverlight from your computer if you no longer need it or if it is causing issues. Here's how you can remove Silverlight on a Windows operating system:

  • Open the Control Panel by clicking on the Windows Start menu and selecting "Control Panel."
  • Click on "Programs and Features."
  • Find "Microsoft Silverlight" in the list of installed programs and select it.
  • Click "Uninstall."
  • Follow the prompts to complete the uninstallation process.

After the uninstallation is complete, Silverlight will be removed from your computer. Note that if you have trouble with a website or web application that used to need Silverlight, after you have uninstalled it, you may need to contact the website or application provider for help with what to do next.

Is Silverlight a security risk?

Microsoft Silverlight is no longer actively supported and is no longer receiving security updates. As a result, using Silverlight may pose security risks to a computer system.

In addition, Silverlight has had some security issues in the past, including vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit to execute malicious code.

While many of these vulnerabilities have been patched over the years, the fact that the framework is no longer receiving updates means that any new vulnerabilities discovered are likely to go unaddressed.

Therefore, it is generally recommended that users uninstall Silverlight from their systems to avoid potential security risks. If you have a legacy application that relies on Silverlight, it may be worth exploring alternative solutions that are more up-to-date and better supported.

What was Microsoft Silverlight used for?

Microsoft Silverlight allowed developers to create interactive and multimedia-rich applications that could run on various platforms. It was designed to run on multiple web browsers and operating systems and offered a way to make rich, engaging user experiences on the web.

Some of the common uses for Silverlight included: -

  • Video Streaming: Silverlight provided a platform for delivering high-quality video content over the web, including support for adaptive and live video streaming.
  • Rich Internet Applications: Silverlight allowed developers to create rich, interactive web applications that could run in a web browser, such as games, data visualizations, and other interactive applications.
  • Cross-platform Development: Silverlight allowed developers to build applications that could run on multiple platforms, including Windows and Mac OS X.

Since its retirement, most developers have moved to other platforms like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Why was Silverlight discontinued?

So, since it appeared to be a competent framework in its day, you might wonder, "Why was it discontinued?" Well, there were several reasons why Microsoft discontinued support for Silverlight:

  • Limited Adoption: Silverlight could never gain widespread adoption among developers or users despite its many capabilities. This limited its growth potential and made it less viable as a long-term platform.
  • Mobile Devices: As mobile devices grew in popularity, Silverlight could not keep up with the changing landscape. Many mobile platforms did not support Silverlight, limiting its potential audience.

  • Competition from HTML5: HTML5 emerged as a more capable and flexible platform for developing rich web applications, and it eventually surpassed Silverlight in terms of popularity and functionality.
  • Focus on Universal Windows Platform: Microsoft has shifted its focus to the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which allows developers to create applications that can run on multiple devices, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. UWP offers a more modern and flexible platform than Silverlight, which has become outdated.

Because of this, Microsoft officially stopped supporting Silverlight in 2021, and it is no longer recommended for use in new projects.

Since it is now defunct, is it worth learning Microsoft Silverlight?

In short, unless you will be working with legacy applications built using Silverlight, probably not.

Microsoft no longer supports Silverlight, so you shouldn't use it in new projects. This also means that no new features are being added, and there are no new job opportunities for developers with Silverlight skills.

Most companies have moved away from Silverlight and adopted modern web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript to build rich, interactive web applications.

If you are interested in building interactive and multimedia-rich web applications, it would be more beneficial to focus on learning modern web technologies like HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. Many people use and support these technologies, giving you many options for making the web more prosperous for users.

Also, they are constantly changing and getting better, so learning these technologies will set you up nicely for a career in web development in the future.

And that is your lot for today.

While Silverlight was once a popular web application framework that allowed developers to create interactive and multimedia-rich applications, its use has declined over the years. Microsoft has discontinued support for Silverlight, and developers are now encouraged to use modern web technologies like HTML5 and JavaScript.

Don't be discouraged if you've heard of Silverlight while looking into ways to make rich, interactive web apps. It would be best if you focused on learning modern web technologies that are widely used and supported, which will give you a strong foundation for a career in web development in the future.

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