Microsoft seems to have put Silverlight on a fast forward course! In less than three years since its first release, we now see the release of version 3.
In the race with Flash, Silverlight is gaining a foothold fast. Silverlight has skipped the phases Flash went through as an animation tool, straight to what Flash is today. It has followed in Flash's footsteps, skipping a few, and making a few marks of its own.
Silverlight 3 poses a theoretical threat to Flash now. Theoretical since it has now merely begun to approach the features that Flash provides, while it is still a platform which has very low adoption rates. Silverlight still chooses to ignore the potential of Linux. The open source Moonlight project which is an effort to create a Silverlight implementation for Linux, has received support form Microsoft, however it still lags at version 1, with version 2 in beta.
Silverlight 3 comes with some competitive features that rival those of Flash 10.
|Silverlight 3 Feature||Equivalent Flash Player Feature|
|Support for HD Video with graphics acceleration, and native support for H.264 video and aac audio||Available|
|Support for third-party codecs using "Raw AV pipeline"||No equivalent feature|
|Support for 2.5D objects (Perspective 3D)||Available|
|Pixel Shader effects||PixelBender filters|
|Bitmap Manipulation API||Available|
|Themed Application support and enhanced control skinning||Available using the Flex SDK|
|"60 controls"||A library of controls is available with the Flex SDK and an even larger no of community made and free OSS components is available|
|Deep Linking (linking to a particular page / state of a Silverlight application)||Available using Flex|
|SEO||Flash content is not automatically indexed by Google|
|Element to Element Binding||Available using the Flex SDK|
|Library Caching||Framework caching|
|Local Connection API||Available|
|Out of Browser experience, and offline applications||More powerful implementation possible using Adobe AIR|
With Windows 7, Silverlight application can also utilize multi-touch ad location sensitive features of the OS.
Microsoft's recent announcement to bring advertisements to the XBox 360 using Silverlight means that millions of XBOX360 owners will soon boost the number of people with Silverlight capable devices. However considering Adobe's will soon have full featured Flash Player available for most mobiles, and 2010 will see a wave of Flash enabled TV's the gain might not be that significant.
Silverlight has now reached a stage that it may be considered an alternate platform to Flash. Another threat that Flash faces is its own reputation as a tool for creating website splash pages, and annoying banners. Silverlight on the other hand suffers only the tarnish of being a Microsoft technology.
Get Silverlight from the Microsoft Website