This is probably a common question. Why would anyone want to adopt Silverlight when there are similar highly successful software i.e. Flash with a strong support community? Here, we will NOT draw a comparison of Flash and Silverlight; however we will attempt to draw out some features of Silverlight that are compelling for developers. If you want to know the difference between the 2 software, read on.
Silverlight, like other technologies, uses a lightweight browser plugin to extend the capabilities of standard web pages written in HTML, and to display Rich Internet Applications. This implies that users need to install a single element to view all the Silverlight content created by different people. The download and installation might be inconvenient; however, once the plug-in is installed, the browser can present any Silverlight content that requires plugins seamlessly, without prompting anymore.
Resemblance in WPF & Silverlight
Developers without much expertise in desktop applications have always felt that web development out of reach for them, but with the environment presented by Silverlight, development is comfortable and inviting.
Since Silverlight is based on WPF, any developer who learns to program applications with Silverlight can easily jump start on writing Windows applications in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).
In WPF the display elements are defined in an XML based language called XAML. There are powerful data binding techniques offered by Silverlight that allow data to be displayed with minimal code. Another remarkable feature of Silverlight is that it includes a smaller version of the CLR. It also includes a complete set of core classes, a just-in-time compiler, support for threading, generics, etc.
This gives developers great flexibility. Now developers can reuse their code completely written in .NET CLR, within Silverlight without substantial changes. Moreover .net developers find it arduous to develop a flash site, particularly, in a completely new design tool and completely different programming environment; i.e. Flex with a new language that is ActionScript. Hence, Silverlight is the best solution for these developers.
Brighter future prospects for Silverlight:
The greatest competitor of Silverlight is Adobe Flash. At the moment Flash has the edge over Silverlight, due to its extensive and rapid adoption, and large support community. Not long ago, Flash was essentially a multimedia player. It has gradually evolved to a dynamic and impressive programming tool that has captured the attention of many developers. However the programming capabilities cannot be, by any means, comparable to modern programming environments.
Microsoft has palpable long-term experience and it has been the sole player in the market of web-based applications. For instance, Windows messenger that started small and eventually gained wide adoption. Other ActiveX plug-ins and MSN games are also examples. This is one major reason why Silverlight is such a promising technology. It is reliable and stable. For many developers who program in .NET, Silverlight is a comfortable and powerful technology that assures excellent graphic creation.