What is Microsoft Silverlight – What is Silverlight?

I’ve been asked several times about Microsoft Silverlight — what is it and do I need it.

Silverlight is Microsoft’s competition for Adobe Flash Player. It’s designed to play videos and allow interaction with the program.

My initial thoughts were that I didn’t need it. I had no application that required it and I did not need yet another video display system on my computer. I already had Windows Media Player which could handle video streaming. I already had JavaScript and ActiveScript (Microsoft’s name for its JavaScript interpreter in Internet Explorer). I already had Adobe Flash Player. Why did I need Silverlight?

I managed to do without Silverlight all through the first version, which was released in 2008. However, in early 2009, I finally had to install it — it was required for one of my new applications.

What needed it? I signed up for NetFlix, the DVD video rental company. In addition to sending DVD’s that I’ve selected and put in my queue, the subscription to NetFlix includes video streaming to my computer.

That’s right. I can have them mail a DVD to me when it gets to the top of my queue (they offer options of 1, 2 or 3 DVD’s checked out at any time). That way, it can take a long time to get to all the videos I want to see. There’s so much "dead time" spent with the DVD’s traveling within the postal system.

That’s where the NetFlix instant viewing comes in handy. Of course, the on-demand streamed video is not available for many DVD’s. But, of those available, I can watch movies or episodes of TV shows from DVD.

The NetFlix instant viewing application was the "killer application" that meant that I wanted to install Silverlight on my notebook and on my home theater PC. I have not installed it on any other PC that I have. I haven’t seen any other application that uses Silverlight, or at least that requires Silverlight and that I want to run.

So, there’s at least one good application that needs Silverlight, at least for computer users in the U.S.A. I doubt that it will be the only one, but Silverlight has been slow getting out of the gate.


  1. I like your site. I’m trying to get rid of things I don’t need on my computer,
    and you had good input on MS Silverlight, which I decided to remove.
    My computer is not the newest, using XP Pro. Watch Netflix on my computer?
    fuhgeddaboudit. Just doesn’t work at all.

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