The Silverlight system provides additional Internet and website capabilities, such as multimedia, graphics, animation, games, interactivity, high definition video, and streaming media. The system includes a development platform for software designers and a free plug-in for popular web browsers.
Silverlight can be used with the two main operating systems for personal computers.
Features for Users
The plug-in provides popular browsers and certain mobile devices with the runtime environment needed for experiencing the features of Silverlight. When visiting a website that incorporates Silverlight features, users have more control over their experience. They can make choices, see stunning videos, and dive deep into graphic images.
This last feature is called Deep Zoom. It allows users to keep zooming into a graphic while retaining sharp details.
Silverlight has been used to provide video streaming for movies and high profile athletic events. This feature provides smooth streaming without any interruptions or jerking. It improves the performance of video streaming on lower quality Internet connections and older computers.
Some features, such as high-definition video, work best when using the power of newer computers.
This system uses hardware decoding of video data, rather than software decoding, to speed up the display of video information. Since hardware decoding uses less energy, this feature extends the battery life on portable computers. However, this feature only works under the Windows operating system.
Features for Developers
Silverlight provides software developers with an application framework they can use for writing and running Internet applications.
Software developers can target applications for use with a single runtime environment. They do not have to be concerned about different versions of multiple web browsers. This is known as cross-platform development. In addition, components from third-party developers are available due to the growing popularity of this system.
Developers can create a virtual web page with the features that they want. The Silverlight system automatically adapts this virtual web page to fit the actual web browser and operating system of individual users.
History of Silverlight
Microsoft released the first version of Silverlight in April of 2007. Version 2 was released in 2008. Version 3 was released in 2009. It offered more controls as well as three-dimensional images. Version 4 was released in 2010. It added more controls and supported more devices.
A control allows users to activate a particular feature within a web page. The last version, Silverlight 5, was released on May 11, 2012.
As with most software systems, each newer version contained more features and used the increasing power of computer hardware and infrastructure.
Do You Need Silverlight?
As this system achieves market penetration, more websites will begin to use it. This applies especially to newer websites. Websites that use Silverlight may notify you to install the Silverlight plug-in to have a better experience. However, many owners of old websites may not bother making upgrades to their sites.
There have been the usual complaints about Microsoft’s policy of using proprietary software to maintain its influence over the development of the World Wide Web.
Peter Wendt is a blogger and web developer. Interested in building engaging, interactive experiences with Silverlight? Wendt highly recommends visiting http://www.proace.com