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Microsoft: Silverlight Now on 60% of All Internet Devices

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Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Silverlight client may have finally reached critical mass, with installation on more than 60 percent of all Internet devices, according to one Microsoft exec. Brad Becker, director of product management for rich client platforms at Microsoft, told us in a phone interview that the rich Internet application plugin has seen strong momentum recently, with the percentage of Internet devices the Silverlight client has been installed on increasing by a third — to 60 percent from 45 percent — in just the last four months.

The news that Silverlight has finally surpassed the 50 percent-mark comes on the heels of Microsoft’s touting of new features added to the framework at its MIX10 developer’s conference last week. With the release of Silverlight 4, Microsoft is taking a big step toward extending the Silverlight client beyond the desktop and onto mobile devices, where it will be the de facto application platform for Windows Phone 7 smartphones. Add to that out-of-browser support on the desktop, and Microsoft has made it easy for businesses to develop apps that can transfer data from the PC to mobile devices without having to build out multiple applications.

To extend its usefulness to the mobile world, Microsoft has added a host of new features to Silverlight, including multitouch support, as well as support for accelerometers, the GPS-based Microsoft location service and push notifications. The application framework also has audio and video capture for built-in mics and cameras, which should allow mobile developers to create VoIP and live streaming video apps that will compete with similar offerings already available on Apple (s AAPL) iPhone, Google Android (s GOOG) and BlackBerry (s RIMM) mobile phones.

While most of the big video upgrades to the framework came in the Silverlight 3 release, it has also received some updates on the media side as well. As such, Silverlight 4 supports hardware accelerated video with multi-codec DRM and smooth streaming support. The new version will also support vector and bitmap graphics with perspective 3-D.

In terms of adoption, Silverlight still heavily lags Adobe (s ADBE) Flash, which claims to be installed on 98 percent of all Internet-connected PCs. But Becker says that Silverlight has finally reached critical mass — that it’s no longer a question of if the platform will catch on and receive mass adoption among consumers, but when.

Microsoft has always professed that, with a half-million Silverlight developers and 6 million .NET developers in the world, it was only a matter of time before their skills would be used for Silverlight applications. Now, with an install base on more than 60 percent of Internet devices, media companies and enterprises building web apps might finally be more comfortable that at least a solid majority of users will be able to access services built on Silverlight.

Silverlight has been used by a number of media companies for their video projects, including Major League Soccer, eBay (s EBAY), Netflix (s NFLX), the Associated Press, the BBC and (s GE). Microsoft is also putting more support behind Silverlight on its own sites and web applications, including Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, the Bing toolbar, Bing Visual Search and Bing Maps, Bing Videos (formerly MSN Videos), Windows Live, and the Xbox and Zune web sites.

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24 Responses to “Microsoft: Silverlight Now on 60% of All Internet Devices”

  1. Well, my router has not got it – and it is certainly an internet connected device. But it has Linux + Mathopd + PHP.

    No other device in this house has Silverlight either, a few of the devices are windows boxes, and a win mobile phone. But most other devices are either some kind of Linux (Ubuntu, Android and others), Symbian or something else that is Unix-like or very custom system. I do not know what the heck it is on the PS3, PS2, PS-One or PSP.. (the PS2 and PS-One is not connected to the internet).

    I don’t like flash, for pretty obvious reasons if I say HP laptop (badly designed cooling system, and flash tends to get the CPUs hot).

    I don’t yet know if I like Silverlight, but the few times I’ve tested it – it has crashed my browser atleast on a third of the times.

    Right now I see Silverlight as an kind of hyped replacement of Flash – I would like to know why all the buzz? Is it easy to use? Does it avoid overuse CPU-power? (Simple animations in Flash use to much CPU – equal animations in JS uses far less cycles) Can I use whatever tools I like (plain text editor and `make’)?

    Well, now it is time for bed here – and for unusualness, It is kind of nice that it is rainin’ cats and dogs ;)

    • ^ “I would like to know why all the buzz?”

      One (of the many) reasons IMHO is the power and flexibility of XAML and to entirely de-couple the UI from business logic. That is something I’ve wanted for well over a decade. With a little effort and self motivation one can consume the methodology and be developing WPF / XBAP / SL (classic and now OOB) applications in no time flat. And they can be made to look absolutely incredible without resorting to any tricks or static images, and also immensely powerful (depending on platform at the moment) in what they can do. And it can take direct advantage and leverage existing .NET knowledge along with it.


  2. Well this is a little embarrasing…. I was viewing an incorrect statistics figure and the install rate is actually 83.5% of all users that hit our sites. Wow. Spoke too soon above. Though 92% are sitting with Silverlight 3 for now. Looks like Silverlight is back on the possible technology list.

  3. Hang on a sec… did someone say 60%. Where are they pulling this figure from? We operate high-end e-commerce booking engines and track thousands of new visitors a week who spend large amounts of money with us. They are mostly home vistiors but also incude corporate visitors. For May 2010 so far, Silverlight installation and activation is sitting on 32%. I think this 60% is a marketing ploy or they are only using stats from websites which developers frequent (eg their own website). I am a .NET developer so not knocking Microsoft. Just wish they would be realistic with their stats and explain their sources.

  4. Hi Ryan, did Brad cite a source for his stat?

    I know of two sources measuring various attributes of Silverlight support among websites, and The first shows a rise of 9% since its sampling change of last November which suddenly doubled its numbers, currently supported by 53% of visitors to its sample sites. StatOwl hasn’t had such a discontiguous jump and shows the current version at less than 40%.

    Has Brad established how he arrived at his numbers, and the “all Internet devices” phrase?

    (fwiw, the quarterly consumer audits of consumer focus groups have been going on for about a decade, with consistent results which parallel those reported by others. You can see sample tests at Usually we see developer adoption rise once consumer adoption hits 80%.)


  5. WTF, your well-reasoned comment adds much to the discussion. Have you ever been outside of the US? In much of the world the mobile phone is the primary tool for accessing the internet. What percentage of mobile phones do you think Silverlight is installed on? How about set-top boxes, Blu-ray Disc players, and other connected televisions? That’s another 100M+ devices, no more than a tiny percentage with Silverlight. I’d like to see the slightest data supporting Microsoft’s claim.

  6. No way! Phones make up the majority of internet-connected devices, and Silverlight is on virtually none of them. 60% of internet-connected PC’s, maybe. No way if you include phones and other mobile devices.