back to article Mm, Silverlight, what's that smell? Yes, it's death

Microsoft hasn't denied rumours that they are about to pull the plug on Silverlight, its development platform for rich Web design. Often compared to Flash, Silverlight could be about to get the same treatment as Adobe's platform and get dumped in favour of leaner, quicker, more energy-efficient HTML5. Adobe recently ditched …


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  1. pompurin

    It doesn't take a genius to see that Silverlight has no future. I'd recommend you start re-training if you're a Silverlight developer.

    1. Shonko Kid

      >I'd recommend you start re-training if you're THE Silverlight developer.

      Fixed it for ya!

    2. Morg

      O rly ?

      It DID not take a genius to see that Silverlight would NEVER stand a chance. i'd recommend you start reconsidering your career-choice-making-abilities if you're a Silverlight developer.

      Seriously ... Silverlight never was more than another useless microsoft alternative, I don't see why anyone even bothered about its existence.

      Comparing it to Flash/Flex is a major mistake though, since Adobe's F might still have a future - since it does not currently have any serious opponents . Yes the political pressure is towards HTML5, but that's not going to help you if you want an interactive modern website -- (Yes, I use jQuery, Sencha and Flex and I can tell you Flex/Flash is far from being the worst in most cases).

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's no point throwing money at your Flash-killer

    when Flash is about to commit seppuku

  3. David Kelly 2


    Netflix bet their streaming-farm on Silverlight. However I suspect streaming direct to embedded devices such as TVs and BD players uses a different protocol.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Netflix should consider switching to Qt, it's a tried and tested development platform on set top boxes. Plus, it has a future, despite the best efforts of Nokia.

      1. alwarming

        Qt (not QuickTime) as replacement for silverlight ???????

        Silverlight is only on browsers... and probably netflix is already working on a replacement (html5, one would guess). So how does Qt for embedded linux on set top boxes come in as a saviour ?

        And why are you posting as AC for such a harmless (though seemingly somewhat dumb) comment OR have I been trolled ?

        1. Neil 7

          Fark me some of you guys are thick

          Qt == Nokia/Trolltech Qt

          QT == Apple QuickTime

          As if anyone would seriously suggest replacing Silverlight with QuickTime.

          Qt on the other hand makes a fine alternative for Netflix, indeed it has been demonstrated in the past.

      2. LaeMing


        Not sure if that was someone who dislikes Qt or someone who doesn't know it isn't QuickTime (which I will agree with disliking).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So with Flash going away, and Silverlight going away...

    How are we going to get DRM content now?

    Not that I like DRM... but I do like being able to stream stuff from Netflix and Hulu - and HTML5 (at least check) does not have any mechanism in it to provide DRM protection for video.

    I would *really* like to know if this has been solved.

    Netflix, at least, still relies on Silverlight for DRM. I would love to not have to rebuild the family laptop (currently working wonderfully with Ubuntu for general web surfing purposes) with Windows just to let the kids use it to stream Netflix.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ancient history


      Hasn't that gone away?

      I've don't throw money away on restricted material so I assumed it had disappeared (except for Apple users, obviously).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ancient history

        Ermmm... I was about Netflix (cheap) and Hulu (free) streaming - the content owners would/will not license to them without DRM.

        For purchased content - I completely agree.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      You want DRM?

      Torrent it, then put a post-it note saying "DRM" on your screen.

      Enjoy the xperience!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Evil Studios should make the proprietary movies free..

        DRM is evil + Free is good.

        Netflix & hulu are Evils of an Industrial society promoting DRM protected content. Instead I want freely downloadable youtube content right now. Google is not just messiah of freedom but is god (& android is its chariot). Down with iOS. Down with DRM. Down with other non-free losers too.

        I want Freeeeeedoom.

        PS: Sex with celebrities should also be free. Paris Hilton is keeping sex with Paris proprietary. That is a downright insult to any red blooded man (or a woman of certain inclination). She should allow Free Celebrity Sex (FCS) right now - just like in 60s.

        Once FCS/Paris allows Free Celebrity Sex, anyone else having sex with her must allow all future sex to be free. Soon we will be able to force all celebrities to release their sex as FCS.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    What is the market share of silverlight?

    I'd hate to just blurt out "but nobody uses it anyway" without any figures to back that up, but I kinda just did ...

    In my "little" world of web dev, we've never had any requests for silverlight, never pursued it as a rich media solution - in fact, it's never even come up in conversation.

    Certainly, my small circle I move in is hardly a market indicator, but looking further afield, to the movers and shakers of web development, I see no activity on the silverlight front either.

    It does appear - and correct me if I'm wrong - that Silverlight was pretty much DOA.

    The HTML5 Canvas element is simply burying the body, with little to no fanfare, in a field somewhere near Redmond.

    1. Ben 42

      Steam survey

      It's probably a bit skewed because of the audience, but according to the Steam survey only about half even have it installed:

      Compared to flash at 95+% that's pretty severely limiting your audience right off the bat if you go with Silverlight.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Simply not true

    "leaner, quicker, more energy-efficient HTML5"

    Apart from Steve Jobs doing some smoke and mirrors no one involved in HTML 5 has ever claimed that it is leaner, quicker or more energy-efficient than Flash or Silverlight. In fact, Flash is arguably quicker and more efficient than many nascent HTML 5 / Javascript implementations because it has had the advantage of many iterations of optimisations, something that simply cannot be said of HTML Canvas and I'm waiting see announcements of hardware acceleration for WebM.

    HTML 5 is based on a deep-rooted desire for openness and level playing fields. By promoting audio and video to the DOM, developers and users have more control over what's happening. CSS transitions, HTML Canvas and SVG animations bring to the mainstream effects that are commonly seen but not transferable. And putting everything in the browser makes security testing easier but then it also increases the risk of a single point of failure.

    1. itzman

      can anything be LESS lean and mean than flash?

      I mean, really, you would think adobe owns Intel the way their code gobbles up cycles.

      Flash is the greatest abortion to hit the CPU since..well..PostScript.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        But PostScript rocked. Especially in NeWS. So what's your point?

    2. Fritz

      Adobe and Microsoft know that there is no way that they can optimize Silverlight and Flash for every concievable device nearly as well as the browser vendors for those devices can. Android has a highly optimized browser that can offload functions to phone GPUs and optimize for arm, iOS has similar, and so on and so on. Every platform you can think of has a web browser that is being optimized for that platform. If Flash is more efficient than HTML5 on any platform right now, it is only due to a head start and that advantage will be gone within a matter of months.

  7. James 47

    Another one bites the dust

    A worrying thing for anyone trying to forge out a career in software development is that the lifetime of things seems to be getting shorter and shorter. There are probably kids in colleges learning this stuff in the hope of a job later, but now have skills that are out-of-date.

    1. Shagbag
      Thumb Up

      Stick to C/C++ then.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Let's hope they learnt the lesson then : Avoid proprietary development environments that leave you at the mercy of a single source supplier. Everybody but microsoft shops learnt that in the '90s.

      1. LaeMing

        Everybody but microsoft shops learnt that in the '90s

        Yes. Ironically, my lesson came directly from His Jobsness himself.

        Apple Newton. Never Forget!

      2. Morg

        Or ..

        Put it simply : don't go into retarded useless tech .

        1. pick good tech (mostly not microsoft and not some obscure troll stuff)

        2. pick used tech (if you want a job, your tech choice should at least cover some market share)

        3. avoid a fail when you see it (silverlight ... Anyone not seeing how it was DOA should probably leave the tech decisions to someone else.)

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "skills that are out-of-date"

      I'm not sure I'd call this a "skill".

      It's something you can invest time and effort into learning, but all such things have a shelf-life that you should think about before you invest. Kids in colleges should be looking for a mixture of lifetimes -- something to get them their first job, and other things to get them a *few* more after that, and perhaps a handful of things that will last a lifetime (but there are precious few of those to choose from).

    4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      So what's new?

      In the olden times, new predators or agricultural catastrophes jumped at you out of nowhere every fews seasons and you had to relearn to survive until you croaked hungry, forgotten and alone in a cold cave at the age of 40.

      In today's times, new stuff from fastcycle development inc. jumps at you out of nowhere every few seasons and you have to bore through another Manning book to survive until your croak hungry, forgotten, alone and pensioneless (your savings having been taxed and inflated away) in front of TV sitcoms at the age of 60.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you've learnt one language you have learnt them all.

      (((Except)(for)(Lisp))(Could never)(get my head (around)((all)(those)) (brackets))

  8. Jason Hindle

    I thought development for WinPho7 was Silverlight Dependant?

    Isn't it?

    Sorry if I've written something stupid in the subject line (the only development I do these days is shell scripts, the odd bit of Perl and VBA macro).

  9. Pooka

    Sky gone?

    Sky Go works with Silverlight as well...

  10. jeffdyer

    ms fancy toolsets going out of fashion

    as a general purpose c# / Delphi developer i can turn my hand to most things. have never seen the attraction in tieing into one manufacturers latest toy for exactly this reason..

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: one manufacturer's latest toy

      Quite right! Why bother jumping for the latest toys when you can stick with older ones, like C# or Delphi?

      1. Morg

        Caveman technology

        C# ... microsoft's failed java, far from cross platform, far from performant ... kill it now please ?

        Delphi : caveman tech at it's best ...

        Okay Silverlight is both BAD and RECENT ... but that doesn't make Delphi good.

        If at least you had said C/C++ instead ... you would still have the excuse of performance, but those two here are inherently flawed choices and clearly unrelated to freshness.

  11. jsk

    Never Used It

    I can honestly say that in all the years Silverlight has exists I have NEVER encountered a web site that used it. Not one.

    BTW, Netflix only relies on Silverlight for DRM on Windows. It doesn't use it on other platforms like OS X and iOS.

    1. Neil 7

      I've encountered 3 sites in maybe 5 years - they all wanted me to install the Silverlight plugin, needless to say there was no chance of that happening and whatever effort was expended on those sites was thus completely wasted. With the decline of IE, this situation was only likely to get worse, assuming it could actually get any worse. Silverlight may still have some kind of future within corporate networks but on the pubic internet it died a long time ago, in fact it was still born.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Pubic internet?

        Fnar fnar

    2. hillsy

      I have encountered several websites that *used* it

      However, I never installed it. Either the site didn't *require* it, or I went someplace else for my content.

  12. Big-nosed Pengie


    Has anybody actually seen it?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Has anybody actually seen it?

      Sure. It's in Visual Studio. (Haven't seen it anywhere else, mind.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Netflix streamers have seen it. That's a lot of people

    3. LaeMing

      I've seen it.

      In the add-remove software list on my work XP box.

      I don't think I have ever seen it /in use/ though.

  13. Ben 42

    I've seen it

    I know of a couple of websites (government ones, no less) that use Silverlight, but in every case they offer a non-Silverlight version of the site too. Makes you wonder why they bothered.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Because a Microsoft marketing rep showed up, bearing presents.

  14. regReader1

    What a joke!

    I recently recommended an organisation not to use Silverlight but choose Flash for a non too complicated image manipulation\markup system. I hate flash and told them the same, I hate all plugins (for general user usage). But, . . . . given they insist on I.E. 6 support then lesser of two evils IMO so flash wins, see later on HTML 5 \ canvas object. Seems to me a huge number of organisations consider moving from I.E 6 to 7 an upgrade :(

    I'm glad Apple said no flash, I don't want an iPad, much happier with a android + Asus transformer but at least they have marketing dosh to say get lost to Adobe and force their hands to use HTML5.

    BTW if you must cater for I.E 6/7 forget things like canvas for I.E. solutions, YMMV but anything other than a basic app just dies a death and even does that in an ungraceful manner (try drag n drop). No surprise of course - when complex jQuery manipulations need to be used on I.E. 6,7, another kind of death. I could be kind and say well I.E. 6 is circa 10 years old but it really is a nuisance to cover and unfortunately 7 is no better and in some respects worse.

    I do feel sorry for people trying to keep up with MS technology at the moment, seems more volatile than even forking Android ;)

    1. Morg

      Which is why

      I tell my clients that they can either be backwards or forwards compatible. And that means IE8+ (html5 support more or less) / Recent firefox / Chrome - which is today already a decent good market share, and with all the political pressure, 99% very soon.

  15. Mikel

    I'm a netflix streamer

    But only on Android and my Blu-Ray player and TVs. I seriously doubt there is any Silverlight in any of those things.

  16. Wombling_Free

    What's that smell?

    it's coffee - on my keyboard.

    Great headline!

  17. json

    so what's going to happen to my photosynths?

  18. I understand now

    Silverlight to die?

    No flowers.

  19. Robert E A Harvey


  20. Lloyd
    Thumb Down


    Remind me, is that the one that Windows Update keeps recommending I install but as yet I've not encountered a single solitary web page that uses it?

  21. Sorry, you cannot reuse an old handle.

    digital, right?

    as long as they keep a backup copy somewhere, it shouldn't be a problem to obtain an exact digital duplicate later, unlike organic life which is truly unique (in a sense)...

  22. airbrush

    Could share 90% of the code with a wpf windows app. Also worked on the mac which was nice. Was great for rich clients on the web, as it was so much quicker to develop for than web app's. Making apps is expensive, complex web apps are often not fit for purpose as they're too slow so this was quite a nice half way house imho.

  23. eldorko

    Not many web sites, but many LOB apps...

    .. use Silverlight, including the one I'm working on right now. Microsoft's positioning of SL in the early days as a Flash killer/rich web app platform was wide of the mark., but for LOB there's a lot going for it, the tooling support in Visual Studio/Blend being one, targeting IE6 clients (always an issue in the Enterprise) is another.

    HTML5 will have it's day for LOB apps, as will the next big thing after that, when the tools and the client base support it. So don't kill it just yet, not until win8 and it's XAMLyness comes out.

  24. RJFlorida

    Bitter Silverlight Dev

    FFS can these people pull their heads out of their rears long enough to make up their minds and give people like me(Devs) the chance to make them money?

    Do these morons have any idea how long it takes to master a platform sufficiently so that *I* can make money with it? No... talk-out-your-ass mastery doesn't take long at all but REAL mastery that can be used to deliver a product in a way that makes a developer money DOES take time. And after I make that money I want the platform to last long enough so I can justify the investment.

    Apple is just blowing Microsoft away in the key area that MS dominated for so long...developer tools and platforms.

  25. sprouty76

    Ironman Triathlon coverage

    The live streaming coverage of Ironman Triathlons unfortunately uses it - and more annoyingly (as a Linux user), it uses a version not supported by Moonlight.

  26. Noodle

    Power View

    I doubt MS will be killing off Silverlight any time soon - the new "Power View" data visualisation tool in the yet-to-be-released SQL Server 2012 is built on Silverlight and this is a new show piece feature that is bound to be supported for at least a couple of iterations of SQL Server.

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