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The Disadvantages of Silverlight

Updated April 17, 2017

Initially released by Microsoft in 2007, Silverlight is a framework which programmers use to develop applications to be distributed through the web. Many of the features provided by Silverlight are also found in Flash, a framework developed by Abobe Systems Inc. As a result, many web programmers and developers are in a challenging position to determine what advantages and disadvantages using one technology might provide over another.

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Smaller Market Share

Silverlight came into being many years after application frameworks like Flash. While a technology like Flash can be found on almost all Internet-connected PCs in the world, Silverlight has only found its way onto a little over 64 per cent of these PCs, according to data culled from Rich Internet Application Statistics. However, the momentum does seem to be in Silverlight's favour, as trends indicate that their presence is increasing.

Larger Files, Slower Loading

In contrast to Flash, Silverlight uses no compression in the images and text components of its animations. As a result, comparable animations and multimedia interfaces created in Silverlight would load faster, though marginally so, if they had been created in Flash.


Though Silverlight developers try to achieve interoperability across multiple browsers and PC types, the framework is ultimately the guarded intellectual property of Microsoft. Hypertext Markup Language version 5 (HTML5), by contrast, is an open source framework for development of application similar to Flash or Silverlight. Some suspect that the relative openness with which Microsoft has shared their technology might wane after they gain a large enough market share.

Limited Image Support

Many different image formats can be used when creating content packages for other programs. Silverlight only fully supports the use of image files with a ".jpg" or ".png" extension. Limited support is available for other image formats. For example, Silverlight can read and write ".gif" files, but only in 1-, 4-, and 8-bit data streams. Camera-based ".raw" formats can only be read, not written, by Silverlight.

No webcam

Unlike Flash, Silverlight does not support the integration of webcam streams. Such streams allow the creation of objects that call upon data from a Internet-accessible camera. Flash has commands to achieve this, but Silverlight is completely without.

Complicated Deployment

Programs such as Flash compress application projects into a single file. Silverlight separates content from a project into multiple files that must be individually referenced whenever a request is made of any Silverlight-created application. This can actually be something of an advantage, as this allows Silverlight text and other content to be optimised for discovery by Internet search engines.

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About the Author

Jacob Andrew previously worked as an A+ and CCNA-certified technology specialist. After receiving his BA in journalism from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2012, he turned his focus towards writing about travel, politics and current technology.

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