Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
SmashingConf London Avatar

We use ad-blockers as well, you know. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. our upcoming SmashingConf London, dedicated to all things web performance.

Flash vs. Silverlight: What Suits Your Needs Best?

With the release of Silverlight 1.0 and its subsequent versions, a debate started among designers and developers regarding choosing between Flash and Silverlight. Silverlight faces difficulties in capturing the market because of the maturity of Flash. However, Silverlight has managed to keep up by including certain features that designers and developers have always wanted to see in Flash, such as search engine optimization.

You may also be interested in the following newer posts:

In this article, we will discuss some of the technical differences between Flash and Silverlight to help you choose the technology that best suits your needs.

Animation Link

Flash uses the frame-based animation model. In frame-by-frame animation, we create an object for each frame to produce an animation sequence. For example, if you want to move something across the screen in 3 seconds, calculate how many frames 3 seconds will take, then calculate the matrices required for each frame along the way. Keep in mind that the player won’t actually maintain a frame rate unless you embed a blank audio track; otherwise, 3 seconds might turn out to be 2 or 6 or 5.

Adobe Flash Animation4

Silverlight is based on the WPF animation model, which is time-based instead of frame-based, so you define the start and end conditions, and it figures out how to do it. No need to deal with matrices like with Flash. Also, no need to calculate the positions of objects in various frames.

Microsoft Silverlight Animation

File Size Link

Flash uses a compressed format, and text and images are embedded in the movie, hence the file size of a Flash component is relatively small.

Text representation in Adobe Flash5

Silverlight uses XAML for its description language, and it is non-compressed, so the size of a Silverlight component is usually larger.

Text representation in Microsoft Silverlight6

Scripting Link

ActionScript is used to program Flash objects. ActionScript is an object-oriented language with a full range of controls for designing user interfaces. And it can be integrated with back-end technologies that use other languages and frameworks, such as PHP, ASP and Ruby On Rails. It comes with a huge, powerful class library for developing online browser-hosted applications and stand-alone desktop applications.

Action Script

For Silverlight scripting, you can choose from among a number of programming languages such as Visual C#.Net and Visual Basic.Net, including client-side scripting with JavaScript. C# and VB.NET can be used to write managed code that runs on and uses all of the enhancements and capabilities of Microsoft’s .NET framework.

Visual Basic7

Video And Audio Link

Flash supports multiple video formats. The latest codec is very high quality, and the bandwidth usage is nice. There is one problem, though: if you create a tool that outputs Flash content, the formats it supports aren’t really used by anyone else. The original video codec, Sorenson’s proprietary H.263 implementation, is a mutant version of H.263. The compression follows the spec fairly closely, but a bunch of features were left out, and you can’t exactly just go find complete specs on how to build your own encoder.

Video Codec8

Silverlight implements the industry-standard VC-1 codec for video, and supports WMV and WMA. Just about everyone already has Windows Movie Maker, but if someone doesn’t, it’s not a big deal because Microsoft makes available a free SDK encoder for producing WMA and WMV. So, not only would you be using formats that people would more likely be able to encode themselves, but Microsoft provides your product with SDKs if you want to do the encoding yourself.

Sound Processing Link

ActionScript offers a set of sound classes that can be used to generate and control sound in a movie. You can add sounds from the library while the movie clip is playing and control those sounds. If you do not specify a target when you create a new sound object, there are methods to control sound for the whole movie.

Sound Processing9

Silverlight doesn’t have the low-level audio APIs you would need to write an audio application in the browser. It doesn’t even support playback of WAV files because .NET has very little audio playback support.

Accessibility Link

Flash provides rich accessibility features for those who have hearing and vision problems or who rely on keyboard shortcuts. Providing captions for video solves accessibility challenges for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, but people who are blind or have low vision or other physical disabilities need the video playback controls to be keyboard-accessible and to function properly with assistive technologies such as screen readers and screen magnifiers. Users who rely on keyboard access can use a variety of familiar shortcuts to control video. Buttons such as “Play/Pause,” “Stop,” “Rewind,” “Mute” and “Closed Captions” can be tabbed to and activated with the spacebar. Slider controls such as for volume and playhead position controls can be accessed via the arrow keys, and the “Home” and “End” keys can be used to skip directly to the beginning or end of a range. The volume slider also accepts numeric keys to set playback audio levels in one quick step.




Silverlight 3 is the first browser plug-in to provide access to all system colors, allowing people with partial vision to use familiar operating system controls to make changes, such as switching to high-contrast color schemes for ease of readability. These features are far fewer than those provided by Flash.

Platform Compatibility Link

Flash supports Windows Vista/XP/2000, Windows Server 2003/2008, Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (PowerPC), Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (Intel), Linux 5, openSUSE 11, Ubuntu 7.10 or later and Solaris 10.

Silverlight supports only Windows Vista/XP/2000, Windows Server 2003/2008, Windows Mobile 6, Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (PowerPC) and Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (Intel). Because Linux and Solaris support is missing, users of those operating systems won’t be able to experience Silverlight on their machines.

Text Representation/SEO Link

Flash stores fonts using shape definitions and the player doesn’t understand TTF, hence we cannot separate the text layer from the movie. Typically the text written on a flash component was not SEO friendly however Adobe has made the modifications to Flash so that it will be indexable, and the search engines have begun to index Flash.

Currently Google is the only search engine that is noticeably reading Flash files. They have worked closely with Adobe to develop the right toolset for the Googlebot in order to read the files for indexing. Yahoo is working on it and MSN is working with their own format, Silverlight, so they probably won’t be developing the toolset necessary to read Flash files.

To read more about how to make Flash SEO friendly, please read the following articles:

In Silverlight applications, user interfaces are declared in XAML and programmed using a subset of the .NET Framework. XAML can be used for marking up the vector graphics and animations. Text is deployed on web server as separate entity and can be read and accessed separately. Textual content created with Silverlight is searchable and indexable by search engines as it is not compiled, but represented as text (XAML).

Supported Image Formats Link

Flash supports almost all image formats.

Silverlight supports only PNG and JPEG file formats. Some other file formats are supported by Silverlight but in a limited way. A full list can be found here.

Socket Programming Link

The XMLSocket object implements client sockets that allow computers running the Flash player to communicate with a server computer identified by an IP address or domain name.

To use the XMLSocket object, the server computer must run a daemon that understands the protocol used by the XMLSocket object. The protocol is as follows:

  • XML messages are sent over a full-duplex TCP/IP stream socket connection.
  • Each XML message is a complete XML document, terminated by a zero byte.
  • An unlimited number of XML messages can be sent and received over a single XMLSocket connection.

Socket Programming with Flash15

Silverlight doesn’t support socket programming. Silverlight supports sockets programming through the System.Net.Sockets namespace. Silverlight supports asynchronously sending data back and forth across a socket over ports ranging from 4502 to 4534. Silverlight supports cross-domain socket communications between a Silverlight application and any server, provided that a special security policy file is in place on the server.

Webcam Support Link

Flash has webcam16 and microphone support for live video and audio transmission, and using them is really easy in Flash. It takes only a few lines of ActionScript code to invoke the camera object.

Camera.get Returns a default or specified camera object, or null if the camera is not available.
Camera.setMode Sets aspects of the camera capture mode, including height, width and frames per second.
Camera.setMotionLevel Specifies how much motion is required to invoke Camera.onActivity(true) and how much time should elapse without motion before Camera.onActivity(false) is invoked.

Silverlight doesn’t support webcam or microphone.

Deployment Link

The Flash deployment package contains only a single Shockwave (SWF) file, and all images, text and animations are incorporated in this file. Because of the compressed nature of a Flash component, its images and text are not indexed by search engines, and thus not searchable.

The deployment process of Silverlight is far more complex; all individual components need to be deployed separately. The following components typically get sent to the client for each Web request of Silverlight:

  • XML files,
  • DLL files (if necessary),
  • Silverlight.js file,
  • Any other JavaScript file,
  • Resources (images, audio, video).

Silverlight Deployment17

Read the full documentation on Silverlight deployment.

Windows Application Link

A Flash movie can be compiled into a Windows application and run as a standalone EXE file. It can also be played on a desktop that has an appropriate Flash player.

Flash EXE Builder

Silverlight doesn’t support playing the movie as a Windows application.

Media Streaming Link

Flash provides no such service to host the content and application with them. Thus, building a video website with Flash is not as cost-effective as building one with Silverlight.

Microsoft Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live is a companion service for Silverlight that makes it easy for developers and designers to deliver rich media as part of their Silverlight applications. The service allows Web designers and developers to host and stream cross-browser media and interactive applications that run on both Windows and Mac. This service can be combined with Microsoft Expression Studio and other third-party tools to create and develop interactive contents.

Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live is currently in beta testing and offers 10 GB of free hosting for rich-media applications.

Microsoft Silverlight Streaming18

Conclusion Link

Selecting the right technology for rich Internet applications is often critical, and choosing between Flash and Silverlight depends entirely on your requirements. If you expect that some of your users will be on Linux or Solaris, then you should go with Flash. If you want your website to be indexed by search engines, then Silverlight may be better.

Besides, as Doug S. is points out in the comments, it’s worth noticing that a minority of web users actually have a Silverlight plugin installed on their machine, while most users do have Flash-support. The Flash Player 9 and higher support streaming of the H.264 video codec which means anyone with a video program that can output an MP4 can stream to Flash. There are literally hundreds of free apps on Mac, PC and Linux that can do this. It’s also important to mention that the latest version of Flash Player supports 3D rendering while Silverlight does not and that SWF, FLA, FLV, and AS are all open-standard formats, while Silverlight is 100% proprietary.

The following table summarizes the features discussed above. Rather than including arrows to indicate whether each platform has a particular feature, we’ve simply marked “better” to show the areas in which each technology beats out the other.

Features Flash Silverlight
Animation better
File size better
Scripting better
Video/Audio better
Sound processing better
Accessibility better
Platform compatibility better
Text representation/SEO better
Supported image formats better
Socket programming better
Webcam support better
Deployment better
Windows application better
Media streaming better

Further Resources Link

The following articles are suggested for further reading:


Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

  1. 1

    May 9, 2009 6:30 am

    very nice article…. great work again…

  2. 2

    You forgot to mention:

    1. Only about 10-30% of the web has Silverlight while 99.97% of the web has Flash 9 or higher.

    2. The Flash Player 9 and higher support streaming of the H.264 video codec which means anyone with a video program that can output an MP4 can stream to Flash. There are literally hundreds of free apps on Mac, PC and Linux that can do this.

    3. The latest version of Flash Player supports 3D rendering. Silverlight does not.

    4. SWF, FLA, FLV, and AS are all open-standard formats. Silverlight is 100% proprietary.

    5. Actionscript is based off the same root as javascript and AS 3.0 and javascript are extremely similar. Silverlight uses Windows-centric code languages that are meant for the desktop and are likely only to be known by desktop-app developers. Higher learning curve.

    Oh, and my personal favorite:
    6. Silverlight is Microsoft, Flash is Adobe. Say what you want, Adobe does right by the web whenever they can. Microsoft does not. Wouldn’t you rather go with the company who doesn’t go out of it’s way to make your life harder?

  3. 3

    Because Linux and Solaris support is missing, users of those operating systems won’t be able to experience Silverlight on their machines.

    Sure, there is Moonlight Moonlight Project

  4. 4

    Interesting article (although I only quickly scanned it)

  5. 5

    Dave Redfern

    May 9, 2009 6:43 am

    Hi, great article.

    I will always be a flash supporter purely because I don’t like MS.

    It’s sods law that this article comes out a week after i had to hand in an article comparing flash and silverlight for uni…

  6. 6

    Silverlight apps are literally zipped into .xap files, and tend to be about the same in size, if not smaller. There’s a guy who implements samples in both and compares… do a search.

    Silverlight does not use “scripts.” It’s a fully object-oriented platform.

    On what basis could you possibly describe Flash as “better” for socket programming? You don’t offer any reason. Silverlight has the entire System.Net.Sockets namespace of the regular .NET Framework, as well as System.Threading, something that Flash sorely lacks. Flash is horrible for dealing with asynchronicity.

    The only real arguments about which to use involve penetration rates and suitability for line-of-business apps. At 25% penetration, Silverlight is absolutely not suitable for use on home pages. But for writing UI intensive LOB apps, Silverlight is much better suited for the task. Beyond that, there are enough pros and cons for each that you use whichever one you know. Just remember that millions of .NET developers can dive into Silverlight pretty easily, which will only encourage its use.

  7. 7

    “If you expect that some of your users will be on Linux or Solaris, then you should go with Flash.” This will probably be the case for ANY website, which makes flash in my opinion the way to go.

  8. 8


    May 9, 2009 6:52 am

    Nice article, but…

    …you forgot something: to build Flash Applications, you need a large amount of money to buy Adobe Flash CS (1,2,3, or 4) to build them. For silverlight you don’t. That’s why I’m using silverlight.

  9. 9

    It seems that there was no mention of Adobe’s Flash media server solutions. These are streaming solutions that use Flash’s proprietary RTMP protocol.

    And, as a previous commentator noted, Flash 10 is compatible with H.264/AVC, which is an MPEG-4 standard. Just about anybody now can encode H.264 on any platform, with tools like MediaCoder, QuickTime, Adobe Media Encoder, HandBrake, and so on. This is far more reaching than the limited VC-1 support that Silverlight has, which may be an ‘industry standard’ but which is supported by far fewer applications.

  10. 10

    Collin Rountree

    May 9, 2009 6:56 am

    You also neglected to mention the development environment. Flash can be developed on either OS X or Windows, while Silverlight requires you to be using Windows to develop any silverlight applications, and not just Windows, but the Visual Studio development kit for Windows which is not in the typical arsenal for web development. No matter how you slice and dice it, Silverlight is Microsofts attempt at redefining the standard, and in my opinion, adding support for search engines in your web application is not worth the switch when it could just be embedded in the encompassing html. Someone else mentioned the price tag on Flash, you don’t have to buy the full CS suite to buy flash. Silverlight is cheap if you don’t want to use the advanced “scripting” features found in the VisualStudio. Every version of Silverlight I saw were plugins to Visual Studio, which is not cheap either. At least as a Mac user I can develop in flash, no choice since Microsoft went the usual proprietary way.

  11. 11

    I Personally prefer AJAX (or more correctly, the dynamic html+javascript UI) over flash or silverlight coz AJAX is popular because it builds directly on current web skills (javascript, html, css), doesn’t require a client-side plugin or support (even though the javascript can sometimes be an even larger download) is generally cross-platform, solved an immediate problem (async data) and for the most part, didn’t provide the enormous flexibility that Flash or Silverlight do today. Developers could wrap their heads around it, and build apps without having to have a designer background. Still, it’s hard to beat the flexibility and SEO response of HTML/CSS & AJAX in compare to Flash and Silverlight.

    Nice writing Muhammad… good analysis and great reading… Thanks for sharing.

    DKumar M.

  12. 12

    Never even heard of Silverlight. Never will try or even use it.
    M$ sucks.

  13. 13

    Mats Taraldsvik

    May 9, 2009 7:07 am

    Regarding Platform Compability :

    What is “Linux 5” ?

    Has the author looked into Mono and Moonlight – the Open Source implementation of the .NET stack and Silverlight, respectively? I think there is also support in MonoDevelop for creating Moonlight stuff.

    Mono runs on most platforms (BSD, Linux, Solaris, Mac, Windows.. ), including the Wii, iPhone and PS3. I’m sure Moonlight and Monodevelop will gain more cross-platform compability soon…

  14. 14

    connecticut websites

    May 9, 2009 7:09 am

    there’s no distinct compelling reason to choose Silverlight over Flash – the differences are subtle at best.

  15. 15

    I agree with most of the article. Some of the comparisons are either already outdated or will become outdated with Silverlight 3. Silverlight 2 supports sockets. Silverlight 3 will include H.264 support, webcam support, 3d rendering support, and many other new features that will help it to get up to speed with Flash.

    My personal favorite: Silverlight is Microsoft. Programming Silverlight is fantastic. The millions of developers who do .Net can very easily learn to do Silverlight. Programming AS3 is terrible, with no unified IDE. People are quick to criticize Microsoft, but they are the most successful software company for a reason. Their development tools are unrivaled and their products are quite good. (I realize many designers are reading this and love their Macs, so please don’t attack me…)

    I like both products. They are competing in a large market and will co-exist side-by-side. I choose Silverlight when the programming will be complex and Flash when the graphical side of it is more complex. Competition will make both much better.

  16. 16

    finally a non bias comparison.

  17. 17

    Courtny Cotten

    May 9, 2009 7:38 am

    SM reads my mind….just yesterday I was introduced to Silverlight by one of our engineers…how eerie…

    Good to point out the differences I asked a lot of these same questions when discussing which was better to use.

  18. 18

    Wearing a developer’s hat, I can’t help but note the missing enterprise perspective. We recently made a comparison of Silverlight 3 (can run standalone) and Flash/Flex with Adobe Air. We were quite surprised that when it comes to LOB (Line of Business) applications, Silverlight already crushes Flash completely. The most important factors of ours were:

    – Tool vendors from both ASP.NET and Windows Forms are making their move towards Silverlight. There’s already a broad range of high-quality commercial components available that cover common data visualization scenarios like grids, charting, reporting etc and the buzz is swarming with excitement – there’s a lot more to come.
    – What people tend to ignore: Silverlight has a more development-centric community. While Flash was and still is a designer’s tool, your typical senior .NET guy has a deeper understanding of software architecture and the development lifecycle. When it comes to the enterprise, this is a critical factor.
    – There’s an upgrade path to WPF where you have the full .NET framework with literally 10’000s of APIs at your disposal. Silverlight XAML is nearly a 100% compatible to WPF’s, so migration is not an issue.
    – Both Silverlight 3 and Flash (Air) can run as standalone tools (out of browser). Silverlight 2 currently doesn’t provide the feature, so it’s out of the picture.

    When it comes to your typical design-centric website, Flash would be the tool of my choice – the tools are just more mature and deployed runtimes are a crucial factor. But for the enterprise, this is a completely different game.


  19. 19

    Charlie Robbins

    May 9, 2009 7:51 am

    Silverlight supports both Frame based animations and non-frame based animations. If you are using Blend (the Silverlight designer), then your animations default to key frame based animations by default. You can control them very much in the same way as you would in Flash.

    See more on the MSDN site:

  20. 20

    Anthony Persaud

    May 9, 2009 7:57 am

    You forgot to mention that Flash is part of the set of tools (ecosystem) provided by Adobe to make it easier to create engaging experiences by separating the workflow but keeping all items in sync.

    This article could be improved by taking into account the Flex SDK as a more developer tool/platform and the Flash IDE (“a designer’s tool” as pointed in the article).

  21. 21


    May 9, 2009 8:08 am

    Flash lacks HTML support, Flex component such as the rich text edtitor is really worthless.
    Making a CMS in Flash you will end up using javascript HTML overlays… pretty lame.

    Website interactivity/animation/surveys/banners : Flash.
    Interactive Business Applications : Silverlight
    Flex Builder versus Visual Studio: Visual Studio.

  22. 22

    Dean Janssen

    May 9, 2009 8:09 am

    Nice writeup. Bear in mind though, that Silverlight Mac PowerPC support has been discontinued as of version 2.0.

  23. 23

    Doug C. – The great thing about the article is, it’s unbiased… unlike your comment =]

  24. 24

    Great article. Would just say that Flash is quite a bit better for all but the most basic, canned animation.

  25. 25

    Raul Riera

    May 9, 2009 9:27 am

    There are wrong facts here, first of all, you are comparing it to Flash CS3, when Flash CS4 has been out for a WHILE and it doesnt use the frame by frame anymore.

    And seconds, to the guy that says you need to spend a lot of cash to build a flash application, just download the Flex SDK (open source and free) and go to town.

  26. 26


    May 9, 2009 9:28 am

    Nice Article and
    Hello No 18 Philipp
    You seem to know better. Do you have a blog or website?

  27. 27

    Wow, exellent article. ++A!

  28. 28

    Marc Hampson

    May 9, 2009 9:36 am

    Comparing the tech specs of the way information is distributed in the presentation of animation is one thing, but you’ve completely glazed over the fact that flash offers virtually endless possibilities in it’s web animation capabilities and experience while Silverlight offers quick canned basics. To say that it’s better or offers more in the way of animation is just wrong. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already a fan of Flash, and I think Silverlight brings some great stuff to the table overall. But for web animation, it’s just not a player in the same game.

    That grumbling aside, I found this article very informative as always:)

  29. 29

    What about Flex ? (flex vs silverlight)

  30. 30

    Flash is expensive, really? Try downloading FlasDevelop and the FlexSDK and you’ll be on your way without paying a dime. There are tons of classes out there to facilitate doing stuff like Augmented Reality, 3D, physics, tweening, preloading, multi-touch, etc, not to mention the plethora of tutorials, blogs, guides and forums out there to help anybody learn Actionscript. Flash is the clear winner.

    Having said that, I’m glad Adobe has a competitor just to keep them in check and innovating.

  31. 31

    Flex and Flash is pretty much the same thing, but my opinion is that the comparasion should have been about Flex and Silverlight.

  32. 32

    There is no “Linux 5”

  33. 33

    This was long awaited article. Though there has been many comparison, a step by step and concise is this one.

  34. 34

    Nice coverage of both, but the fact that there’s no official Silverlight IDE for the Mac (and most likely never will be) pretty much ends the discussion. Microsoft wants designers and creative content providers to adopt Silverlight into their workflow, yet purposely ignores the fact that the overwhelming majority of us use Macs because we can’t stand MS products. Sure, I know you can use Eclipse and all that, but the fact remains that they require you to use their OS in order to get anything significant done. I would rather be boiled in molten lead than go back to using Windows, so I guess I’m out of luck if I ever need to develop a Silverlight app.
    The dislike for all things MS is not just a snobby elitist thing, either. People who care about design have a much lower tolerance for things that are poorly designed. Microsoft’s products seem to come from a fantasy world wherein everyone – including designers – uses and loves their products. They have yet to wake up to the fact that it’s no longer the mid-90’s, and that intelligent consumers and users have moved on to things that better suit their needs.
    Silverlight, the strategy behind it, and nearly all of Microsoft’s products are just more reminders that they simply want more market share. They couldn’t care less about empowering us to design better user experiences, and really just want to get people tethered to Windows and all their proprietary .NET stuff. No thanks!

    Personally, I’ll be surprised if Silverlight still exists five years from now. Remember Microsoft Liquid Motion?

  35. 35

    It seems like the author is a flash fan-boy.

    I have been developing in Flash for about 6 years now, and there are many many irritating things like the way flash handles threading (slowing down the movie on each thread running) etc. And communication between Flash and your web application is tedious to say the least. That being said, I am relatively new to Silverlight, so I havent yet discovered what will irritate me about it.

  36. 36

    The article was useful but only gives a limited idea of what is possible with either technology – both can be ‘better’ than the other in a lot comparisons depending on how you choose to use what is available. You say silverlight has ‘better’ animation support – but it doesn’t have full IK (bones) deformation and animation to my recollection – also you talk about Flash animations be frames-based this is true but there is also the capabilities for time-based animations too – Flash has so many ways to achieve a result it can be both incredibly powerful but also easy to miss the potential ‘best way’ to do something. I’m sure Silverlight is similar too – personally I felt let down by the tools MS provided as they didn’t maximise the technology’s potential – but this is improving with each iteration.

    Oh, and for video – you gloss over Flash’s standard codec support like it only has the bastardised sorenson – that was so long ago – it had the on2 VP6 codec since then – and now has mpeg4/h.264 support with aac audio – it will play standard quicktime mov files (which typically use an mpeg4 codec) as well most mobile phone video content .3gp as I understand it. It also has speex codec and server support for creating your own VOIP / video conferencing apps (amongst other things) Again, I’m sure Silverlight has a similar advanced feature set so I don’t want to appear like a Flash fanboy – but this article is misleading because it suggests this is the majority of what the technologies do – but they can do a lot more!

    P.S. you don’t have to compile all your assets into the SWF – you can load them dynamically at runtime if you want them to indexable in there own right, or just for convenience, plus not all text is stored as shape outlines, dynamic textfields cannot be stored this way and so the text has to be present in the SWF, and also can be changed to text created with script or loaded remotely. Again I would think SIlverlight could do this too ;)

  37. 37

    it is simple
    after all my effort given to flash doubtlessly i will stick with it
    no matter what silverlight or “goldenlight” might be

  38. 38


    May 9, 2009 11:18 am

    How could you forget to mention that Flash is ALREAD INSTALLED on close to 100% of the computers out there, while Silverlight is down around 25%?!? And that Flash will be similarly dominant in the mobile players?! HUGE OMISSION.

    And btw, you should look at Microsoft’s own website where they USE FLASH INSTEAD OF THEIR OWN SILVERLIGHT. That should tell everyone something about the importance of ubiquity…

  39. 39

    Jim Simpson

    May 9, 2009 11:30 am

    Yes, the comparison should’ve been Flex vs. Silverlight. MXML vs. XAML – not ActionScript vs. XAML. The equivalent of Flash in the Microsoft ecosystem would be something like Expression Blend.

    Good article, however I have to disagree on the Silverlight beating out Flash on the animation side. For anyone that’s ever built interactions using triggers in Blend, I think they’ll agree that it’s substantially easier to build the same interaction in Flash using event listeners and timeline-based animations.

    The latest version of Flash has so much more to offer with regard to animation. Bones and rigging anyone? 3D support? Flash is a VERY solid animation tool – and beats Silverlight hands down.

  40. 40

    This is article is biased to the point of being fanboi, with a couple of “pro-Flash” points put in to pretend it’s not. Example: “Industry standard VC-1”? Really? Except that H.264 is available in virtually every single place that VC-1 is except for MS products, and in an order of magnitude more places total (Flash, iPods, DirecTV boxes, mobile phones, etc).

    And does no one remember the ActiveX fiasco? The only difference there was that MS had enough market share at the time where they could afford to make ActiveX only run on IE/Windows. What happens when MS decides Silverlight is well-supported enough that, say, version 5 is going to be IE only? Or purposely makes it perform so poorly on the Mac or on other browsers besides IE that IE becomes the default choice? There’s no denying that these are possibilities because they’ve done similar things in the past countless times. I can’t imagine any serious web developer risking being subject to MS lock-in again.

  41. 41

    Marc Lijour

    May 9, 2009 11:32 am

    Linux 5? Do you mean Operating system 4? or Computer 6?

    Interesting article but there are obvious gaps in what relates to non-Windows OSs ( e.g. Ubuntu is not Linux?). The author does not seem to know what Linux is when he does not name the popular distributions or confuses kernel with operating systems and distributions. There are other issues. For example, the author does not specify if Microsoft is providing its WMA encoders on Linux, and if there is a decoder available (what would you do with your data once it is formatted for Silverlight?). I don’t think MovieMaker is available on Linux either… and what about the Mono project (& moonlight: )?

    Also, Flash support interpolations where you just need to define begin and end conditions. That makes the comment on Animations incomplete. I am not a Flash expert, but I thought I read something about Flash server and streaming (Google gives that link for example : I have no idea how that compares to Silverlight streaming but it sounds related to me. Finally, I was surprised there is no mention of Flex or the Mono project, or even Adobe AIR.

    The article does not look at software interoperability either. Does Silverlight works as well with Firefox (or Opera, Konqueror, etc.) as with Microsoft IE? As one commenter says above, the business environment should be considered. If you are a Microsoft shop then Silverlight has obvious advantages but may be not as much if you are a Java shop, a PHP shop, a Linux-based business, etc. Future articles could look into that direction. A comparison of interoperability features and “playing nice” with IT environments would be interesting as well.

  42. 42

    Awesome article. Good job!

  43. 43

    Hmmm.. I’ve been using Flash since v. 3.0. With all those irritating things in Flash it is such a powerfull tool not only for programmers/developers but for graphicians too. Author didn’t mentioned it, as he focused on tech-level comparision, which is a huge mistake for such comparision. How do you say, SL has better audio/video support? What about learning curve, what about single-file-deployment in Flash. I’ve tried to use SL but it’s typical MS tool – too much complicated, thousands of separate files… Flash advantage is very huge in most cases, while its weaknesses are rather subtle. I personally was quite impressed how artists are making a use of Flash while the cannot do a single thing in SL. I saw some apps made in SL – they are slow and very unstable, even on MSIE. Have you ever heard of unstable Flash application? Once it works properly, it does work everytime on different machines/systems. And… games. Please, show me SL games. They present the level of early 90’s games made on Amiga.

  44. 44


    May 9, 2009 11:53 am

    Silverlight is a lie and a proven patent trap.
    Moonlight is NOT – and will never be – equal to the Windows version.
    It’s all about microsoft’s fud and obsession to own everything and everyone.

  45. 45

    I’m really surprised how that article did get on this site. It’s not about differences about technologies – it’s an article about flash and how to find ways to show that it’s better than silverlight – including lying. Author read something about silverlight and to find its problems and things that it’s missing. Not knowing about Moonlight (and Monodevelop which allows to create and run silverlight apps on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X – there’s also IDE based on Eclipse to do the same).
    On the license side of both technologies – there are no differences. Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash are proprietary, both file formats are publicly documented standards.
    When it comes to programming – silverlight gives much more – it’s language independent since version 2.0 (the logic can be written in any .NET language). It supports playback of WMA, WMV, MP3 and AAC, H.264 since Silverlight 3. It also supports 3D, pixel shaders and uses GPU to accelerate those operations. It does support socket programming – on much higher level. There are tools for creating executable files from silverlight applications – even free ones. Moonlight on the other hand did make it possible to use silverlight applications as desktop widgets.
    I’m not a fan of silverlight technology – I do know a bit about it – just a bit but I see that it’s more that author of this article did know about when searching for information for this article.
    There is one big problem with silverlight with which I have to agree – flash is more popular and it makes it more difficult to develop in silverlight rather than flash. that’s why from time to time I have to develop in flash (and hack it to do what I want – especially when using AS2) insted of any other technology.
    don’t get me wrong – I’m not a MS fanboy – I try to choose and use technologies that are usefull for certain needs – I just see that some people hate MS so much that they will write anything to show other how much it suck.

  46. 46

    @Radeksonic: What part of open standards didn’t you understand? You don’t HAVE to use Adobe’s IDE to get the job done, there’s plenty of free third-party IDEs for that.

  47. 47

    It’s only a dream in someone’s imagination that those of us who use *nix have any real interest in Mono. Whenever anyone tries to push Microsoft software on us they always say “It runs on Mono!” as if that means anything to us and makes us have a burning desire to install or use it.

    It’s also funny to see Windows developers think Silverlight is so much better because it integrates well with Windows and Microsoft tools. This means nothing to us who don’t use either and have no use for either.

    The internet is a *nix world, no matter what Microsoft wants you to believe and think, and it will never be Microsoft’s world.

  48. 48

    This article doesn’t say that Flash is good over silverilght. Its a technical comparison and if flash is good then its good.

    I liked the comparison though!

  49. 49

    No one mentioned Flash Media Server or Flash Lite
    As Flash developer I cant see anything interesting here – sorry

  50. 50

    It’s odd how the Flash users think this article is biased towards Silverlight and misses the benefits of Flash, and the Silverlight users and Flash ‘dislikers’ seem to read this article like it is biased towards Flash… As a long-time Flash user I think it unfairly misses some of what makes Flash a superb technology. As a lightly-trained Silverlight developer who works for .Net focused companies I feel it incorrectly weighs things up when really both technologies can do pretty much anything you’d ask of them if you learn how to use them. I don’t feel this article was a deep look at the technologies’ capabilities. But ultimately if you are a .Net developer you’ll think Silverlight rocks (largely because it gives you the power to create something that you used to have to turn to the mysticism of Flash and it’s developers for) But from a code point of view both .Net languages, and AS3 (including pixelbender and Alchemy) provide such fantastic capabilities a comparison should be less about features, and more about “which do you like to develop better?” It’s a personal choice – but for me, until Silverlight (player) has reached the adoption level of Flash (player) then it’ll be Flash whenever I need some ‘rich interactive blah blah blah’. For each case/project you should think of what markets you want to reach and then work out which technology provides the most easy/best/cost-effective approach, taking into account you and your company’s skillset – there is no true winner between these technologies – they are as much different as they are rivals – I hope people make their decisions based on their own research and testing and not fairly shallow comparisons.

  51. 51


    May 9, 2009 1:15 pm

    Thank You SM,
    And to readers, the article is about pros and cons :)
    I know flash. Its great.
    I am learning Silverlight because of easy learning curve.

  52. 52

    Is Silverlight the plugin that has made my browsing experience worse? In past times, clicking a pic link would open that pic, i.e. the browser would browse its way to that file and display it. Now, the current page dims, an Aero-looking spinning icon appears, then a new frame expands into view with my picture in it. And I can’t right click on it. And I have to aim for a tiny (sometimes nonexistent) ‘close’ button on the bottom of the picture. Pics are scaled, too, with no option for manipulating the size (which I am used to, being a firefox user with addons specifically for this task).

    Guess you could call it a strictly end-user persepective, but I FSCKING HATE THAT. I’m not even using Silverlight, or an MS browser for that matter!

  53. 53

    I can’t believe one can compare the quality of flash’s animation tools with the toddler tools silverlight gives you. Flash’s animation tools are so many, there are a thousand and one ways to animate with it. You’re not limited to one tool, to fbf, to tween, to do swap symbol animation etc. It gives you so many options from beginer options such as basic tweens to the after effects advanced motion tween system with the ability to reuse animation. Silverlight has a long way to go in my opinion before it reaches flash level.

  54. 54

    Charlie Hayes

    May 9, 2009 1:32 pm

    This article is wrong on nearly every item. The author of this article should be ashamed of themselves.

  55. 55

    Oh wow….just wow. What a misleading article. I really expected better of Smashing Magazine; at the very least an editor could have done a quick fact-check of these points. Virtually every point about Silverlight is outdated by 6 months to a year, except for the ones that are completely wrong.

    For example, claiming that Silverlight doesn’t allow for the creation of a desktop app. Silverlight by definition is a subset of WPF, which primarily exists to create desktop apps. Also, deployment for most folks is just embedding a .xap file into your html with a single line of code – how is that complex? It also supports tabbing between fields, has audio playback support, supports sockets, etc etc.

    Again, I’m very disappointed to see this here. Criticism is one thing, but trolling a few message boards and rewriting half-truths as fact for a “legit” comparison is quite another.

  56. 56

    @Leon: it is fun to read about Silverlight features outdated by 6 months, when author fails to mention things that were available years ago in Flash (mxml, media servers, h264 support and a few more) – so – please don’t complain ;)

    Oh, and as per pricing – I understand that people aren’t happy about paying for tools and I guess it is fine if you do open source or free work, but most people use Flash and microsoft tools to do real work, as in “for money”, so paying for tools isn’t really a big deal, especially that development services tend to be costly.

    As mentioned before – Flash development can be free – flex sdk is the way to go and it is pretty straightforward, but my choice here is Powerflasher FDT for Eclipse, it saves me hours of every project time.

  57. 57

    Flash is my preference for obvious reasons. It’s has better file compression, integration with PHP, ASP and Ruby On Rails, it supports all image formats, it has webcam support, it’s easy to deploy and supports SWF, FLA, FLV and AS, all open-standard formats, while Silverlight is 100% proprietary. One more thing, I’m a Linux user, Silverlight doesn’t work on Linux.

  58. 58

    I dont understand how SIlverlight can be better in Video/Audio?
    If im right you can play FLV, MP4, M4A, MOV, MP4V, 3GP and 3G2 with flash?

  59. 59

    Richard Sakai

    May 9, 2009 2:23 pm

    Go with flash, Silverlight doesn’t officially support Linux and also Flash adoption is higher very close to 99% whereas Silverlight is much less.

  60. 60

    No microsoft, i won’t install your bad attempt at stealing adobe’s market.
    Another reason why you shouldn’t use silverlight, you won’t reach stubborn people like me, less $ for your bussiness.

    Oh and, how the hell do you explain silverlight beating flash in video?!

  61. 61


    May 9, 2009 2:30 pm

    Silverlight requires .net. That is a non-starter for me. Also, for those who have mentioned moonlight for linux and solaris, you obviously haven’t tried it. It is a poor cousin to Silverlight. The ONLY good thing about Silverlight is it will push Adobe to fix some of the weaknesses in flash.

  62. 62

    Silverlight = DRM.

  63. 63

    This article reflects a sound knowledge of author regarding these two products which are major market shareholders. It really gives me good overview of both technologies. Great!!! Keep it up.

  64. 64

    oliver, priest

    May 9, 2009 2:49 pm

    I’m using Flash/(FLEX).
    Silverl. is kind of nice but .. meh … u know ;)

  65. 65

    You really shouldn’t compare Flash to Silverlight, compare Flex instead!

  66. 66

    Wow, I don’t even know where to start with the factual inaccuracies of this article. I hope that anyone seriously interested in learning the differences between Flash and Silverlight continue searching, and forget they ever found this page…

    Don’t even get me started on recommending outdated formats like WMV over codecs like H.264 because “everyone has access to Windows Movie Maker”…

  67. 67

    This is a great in-depth description of these two technologies, and I like that it keeps an impartial tone. I tend to go with technologies that are compatible with most browsers (Flash), but have worked with both and they both have advantages and disadvantages. Excellent!

  68. 68

    Tony Testa

    May 9, 2009 3:16 pm

    I think that its important to note that the author is refering to Silverlight 1 deployement when they say you have X number of files you have to deploy. Silverlight can be deployed JUST like flash and uses a .XAP file, which is really just a zip file (change the extension to zip to see the files) and can be embedded into an object tag just like an .SWF

  69. 69

    Make sure you do the most important comparison of all – see how well your page works in Linux and Mac.

  70. 70

    Martin Doms

    May 9, 2009 4:50 pm

    FYI Silverlight does indeed compress application files. The client receives a .xap file which is a zipped, minified version of the client XAML and resources.

  71. 71

    Sorry for posting again.

    Besides the obvious, we can agree that both Flash and Silverlight have about the same scope of functionality, even if one has a slight edge over the other. If your goal is to stick an animation into a HTML page, then sure, I would say use Flash. I have been using flash for 6 years now, and come from a programming background. AS being a loosely typed language, rather sketchy intellisense and lacking some cool functionality to jump to methods by with the “go to definition” functionality MS tools have, I find that given you take the time get to know the IDE and power that access to all the core libraries that .NET has gives you, I dont think Flash will snuff out Silverlight. Then take into account how far Silverlight has come in a few short years, as opposed to Flash then we are starting to notice that Silverlight today might only be the giant waking up. Im not a MS fanboy, I choose the tool thats best suited for a job.

    From a personal perspective, I also have to mention that the Silverlight IDE compares well against the flash IDE and after a long day’s coding and recoding, my code just feel more manageable in Silverlight (if that even makes sense)

  72. 72

    Wow, after reading all the comments, it’s clear that this “comparison” does just as lousy of a job describing Flash as it does Silverlight.

    What’s even sadder is that I can count on one hand the number of commenters who are able to look past their biases enough to realize this.

  73. 73

    the only reason I prefer Silverlight, is because if I stream something full-screen in silverlight, it doesnt take up 40% of my E8400 (both cores…) to do it. Flash for some reason decides in needs almost half of my powerful CPU, and thats really annoying to me…. I’ve tried on XP/Vista/7, and flash behaves the same way.

  74. 74

    Chris Morledge

    May 9, 2009 7:15 pm

    Seems to be a few out dated or just plainly incorrect statements in this article. Plus some comparisons where not exactly like for like. Not of the high standard I tend to find on SM.

  75. 75

    You have animation and video won by Silverlight, I work designing for both platforms, and I would argue this conclusion as currently, Silverlight has no transparent video support, making it very difficult to implement smooth canned video animations, say, rendered in After Effects. Sometimes in the real world it is not practical to code animation sequences, and therefore the option to bring in a transparent video asset is priceless. Great article, I enjoyed it immensely. You are also brave for touching upon a topic that is bound to cause a flame war of bias and untruths.

  76. 76

    Another anti microsoft, mac-nix article from smashing. Stick to what you do best and go compile another “top ten jquery” article, and leave the writing of these articles to people who care enough to provide educated insight. As a designer who works primarily with ms tools (rare enough) I find the consant attempt to jutify a mac purchase a little tiresome.

  77. 77

    @Gonzobot: that’s ajax code, has nothing to do with Flash or Silverlight.

    @Lucky to call Expression Blend a “toddler tool” tells me you haven’t invested any time in it. Don’t confuse lack of experience with lack of capability.

    @Addi surely you’re kidding

    As for Linux users in the comments: well, you’re important for sure, and I want to see both tools have the broadest reach possible, but your web browsing market share is currently less than the iPhone’s. Just saying the web is a “nix world” doesn’t make it true.

    As to the article. I can only comment on the Silverlight inaccuraces (except for a few things that even *I* knew were wrong regarding Flash), but this article has so many issues that I’m embarassed to see it on the net. I hope folks who read it also read all the comments here so they can see just how wrong this article really is. It’s a research paper without any research, a supermarket tabloid-level comparison of two awesome technologies.

    XAML is absolutely compressed. At the very least, it is compressed by the standards-based compression method used for the application package – zip.

    On languages, don’t forget that you can use IronRuby and IronPython. There is no back-end server requirement, so all the same back-end technologies that work with flash (PHP, ASP, Ruby on Rails) all work with Silverlight. C# is an open standard language more so than ActionScript if you want to be picky. Silverlight’s support for .NET is a subset of .NET, not the “full power” or for that matter, full install and footprint, of the .NET CLR. 4.5mb gets you everything you need.

    Media: I can’t remember the last time I saw serious video done in Windows Movie Maker :P. On formats, why did you leave out Flash and Silverlight H.264 support? Please note that Silverlight 3 has native support for H.264 and also allows you to easily create your own codecs in managed code. Those same APIs can be used to dynamically create audio (see my synthesizer example here: ). This approach isn’t as nice as what you get with Flash, but there is an example showing how to play .wav files as well.

    Accessibility: Silverlight has support for the accessibility APIs used by screen readers and other tools. It also has support for keyboard navigation. I seems you didn’t do much investigation there. I haven’t investigated Flash on this front, but my colleages on that side of the aisle tell me the accessibility support in Silverlight is much better.

    Platform: Silverlight 2 and 3 do not support PowerPC Mac. Linux support is provided by the Moonlight team – an open source version of Silverlight that runs Silverlight applications without requiring a proprietary player.

    SEO: Your example is really a red herring. Flash does not support indexing of the most important thing: dynamic content. What does it matter if field labels and static content can be indexed? That’s a pretty small part of the picture. Silverlight 3 and .NET RIA Services have a great SEO story, and fully support deep-linking into Silverlight apps. As with any RIA, it’s still more work than straight HTML, but the results are very promising.

    Sockets: It should be stated that the Socket support in Silverlight is true sockets support, not something that imposes another protocol over sockets. What Flash supports is not really sockets, so to say it is better is just silly. Perhaps compare Flash “sockets” with Silverlight WCF Duplex then.

    Deplyment: You are two versions out of date with your Silverlight deployment information. Silverlight requires one thing: a .xap file. The .js file is a helper just like the flash helpers out there. The .xap file is conceptually similar to a .swf, but is easily inspectable as it is based on the standard zip file format. The two are equal here with Silverlight having an ever so slight edge in that you can inspect the deployment package and alter config files and whatnot without resorting to a proprietary tool.

    Windows app: Most silverlight 2 code can be compiled as WPF with minimal changes. Not exactly a hands-off process though. In Silverlight 3, we have cross-platform desktop application support. Similarly, Adobe has AIR. Not sure why that was left out of your comparison. If you want a windows-only solution, there are free solutions out there that host Silverlight apps out of browser in windows with no code changes.

    Streaming: Silverlight 3 also support IIS Smooth Streaming.

    You also forgot things like hardware acceleration, easing, keyframe animation, behaviors, true multithreading, simple network access for SOAP, WCF, REST, JSON and other services, the 3d transformations and pixel shaders available in Silverlight 3, the awesome Blend tooling which truly integrates design and development for good round-tripping and many other things. You can also build Silverlight applications using free tools on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX (Eclipse4SL).

    While it’s hard to put together a good comparison between the two products, it’s obvious to me that you didn’t even try. Anyone who thinks this is non-biased simply didn’t do their homework.

  78. 78

    FWIW, this article is *so* bad that I would actually like to see it pulled. It does neither technology any justice.

  79. 79

    Jeff Putz said ” Silverlight is absolutely not suitable for use on home pages. ”

    You say that like Flash IS suitable to be a home page. Flash Web site, despite how often it is misused for this purpose. Web = hypertext, Flash is not hypertext.

    Silverlight is based on Xaml and is a reduced set of Microsoft’s WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) application technology. Silverlight is just getting started. WPF is amazing compared to previous application technologies in its power, ease of use and fine graphics detail. Adding a hardware-accelerated pixel shader is as simple as adding an XML tag in a Xaml document. Latest demo I saw was a working 2-D control (a textbox) mapped onto a 3-D surface. When it can’t be hardware accelerated, it falls back to software rendering.

    These technologies will make it into Silverlight when it matures (3.0 due out this fall). The only thing slowing it down is making sure everything works cross platform (Linux / Windows, Mac).

    Flash will have a challenge ahead.

    Many more of the technologies in WPF will make its way to Silverlight, just give it time.

    …and yes, Silverlight technologies do work on Linux. Use “Moonlight”, the open source linux implementation.

  80. 80

    Windie Chai

    May 9, 2009 8:56 pm

    Silverlight deployment is simple as flash, flash file is a swf file, silverlight file is a xap file, why flash is better?
    And Silverlight can play as a windows application like flash in silverlight 3.

  81. 81

    Scott Barnes

    May 9, 2009 9:04 pm

    This entire article has had shallow research on both platforms. I actually find myself disagreeing with majority of the points on both platforms not just the one i look after.

    I’d ask that the author reach out more to the owners of both brands to get a more detailed perspective in future – as clearly the comments beneath the article indicate folks are in vocal disagreement.

    Scott Barnes
    Rich Platforms Product Manager

  82. 82

    Note: Silverlight 3 is not released. So stop talking like Silverlight 3’s features are currently available. They won’t be for at least another 4-6 months.

  83. 83

    Extremely poor article. A lot of false information and representation, many vital points are missing.

  84. 84


    Silverlight 3 will be out “this summer” and is currently available in public beta. Otherwise, point taken. Even if you compare Silverlight 2 to the current version of Flash, this article doesn’t even come close to getting the facts straight on either side. It compares parts of the September 2007 release of Silverlight (Silverlight 1) with info from the Silverlight 1.1 alpha of May 2007 against some old release of Flash that didn’t support h.264.

    Silverlight 2 was released to production in October 2008.

  85. 85

    I think the article was not bad. It missed stuff on both sides – the biggest is it’s totally mistaken claim that SL isn’t compressed and requires deployment of several files. It is compressed and requires deployment of precisely one .xam file which is just a .zip file with different extension. My personal take is that flash has the better animation stuff and if you only need light programming and heavy animation it’s probably the way to go. For heavy lifting on the programming side, I’ve used both Flash and SL and C# is a much better language in a much better IDE for heavy programming than ActionScript. And if you don’t like it, use C++ or IronRuby or IronPython or J++ or F# or… There’s just no comparison when you’re comparing languages, especially when it’s a large family of languages for Silverlight vs. only one (ActionScript) for Flash. Also, Flash has been around for a LONG time which is good for it’s market penetration – definitely a point in its favor, but all these technical issues like Webcam, etc. – SL has come a long way in a short time and I can certainly expect that it will have all or most of them very shortly.

  86. 86

    Jasvinder Singh

    May 9, 2009 10:43 pm

    Nice article.
    Expecting some more article and resources on silverlight. Specially for designers

  87. 87

    Brian Houston

    May 9, 2009 11:24 pm

    That MS is given equal footing on Smashingmagazine – with their latest FUD encrusted crappy copycat “embrace and extend” technology – is quite dissapointing.

    Do not fall into the Microsoft patent trap. I smell MS payola in some of the comments here as well.

    Please f-off and die Microsoft – I for one remember J++, Internet Explorer 6, and no inclusion of Java runtime.

  88. 88

    I wonder why such a stories never change…
    Which is born before? The chicken or the hen?
    It seems that the comparison (and most of the comments) arise fron the radical hating for MS (as the richest Co), but not from objective reviews, instead.

    Techinacally speaking, I would have strongly separated WHO is using this kind of techonologies: I guess that SmashingMagazine is most a web-deisgner community, so the Flash solution will be always appreciated…no doubt!
    I am a desktop developer (not a web one), having LOB solutions in mind. I surely find better to share the same sources between desktop and web…the market uses MS at most: why have I to drive crazy developing in two-three different languages?…The costs are absolutely out of target…
    As a huge estimator of WPF, I still haven’t see anything similar as a compromise of: simplicity, realibility, flexibility and economy…anyway, I am ready to change my opinion…
    This is an HUGE impacting factor when developing a commercial solution!

    For the “crucial” choice between MS or “anyone else”…
    Adobe isn’t a saint: the Co. value is 1/10 the MS, but it is among the most powerful in the world…PDF, Flash, PS are proprietary formats, even “open”…what does mean “open”?
    As for me “open” hasn’t any particular meaning, because I must think that about 100% of customers do knows “PDF” as document format, have “Flash” installed (shipped with Win) and (probably) a PS-driver printer…

    So, please…tend to make reviews, comparisons and comments adherent to an objective point of view.

  89. 89

    Just repeat:
    “it is simple
    after all my effort given to flash doubtlessly i will stick with it
    no matter what silverlight or “goldenlight” might be”

  90. 90

    @Pete Silverlight 3 cannot be used for any live applications today, and is therefore entirely irrelevant to this comparison. There is not even a “go live” license for the beta of this product that’s available and the history of Microsoft announcements that use vague release dates like “this Summer” hardly sets any kind of precedent for believing it or basing any kind of decision on whether to use it for work being undertaken today.

    The article is (and should be) comparing what can be done (and released on the web) with products TODAY. Silverlight 3 CANNOT be used today to release anything on the web, so is irrelevant to the comparison.

    That being said, I agree that the article is unfair to both sides. But you only have to look at the replies here to realise that whilst those dissing the article for poor research and facts are equally culpable in their replies!

  91. 91

    It is really not fair to not mention moonlight because, imho, it will be (starting with version 2.0) a better silverlight on linux than the linux flash plug-in compared with the flash plug-ins for the other platforms.
    Silverlight 3.0 and Moonlight 2.0/3.0 will be not only an alternative to flash but also to Adobe Air on all platforms. Also Moonlight will probably be a nicer enviroment for making iPhone apps than Objective-J and the tools from the SDK if Apple plays nice.

  92. 92

    Adam Cernik

    May 10, 2009 1:21 am

    Using MIcrosoft? Of course!!! But only in jokes.

  93. 93

    I find it completely scary that a reputable design site is even considering the benefits of Silverlight. It’s Flash competition just for the sake of it. Just like Zune, they are doing something just so they can be seen to be competing in events they’ll never win.

    The only thing Microsoft has given the online community was IE 5 for mac. Since then it has only brought us down by providing incredibly poor products and forcing them upon the world. IE 6, 7 and 8 are all far below par and are holding back the entire development of the web. Anyone who actually designs and builds for the web knows this.

    The sooner Microsoft is dead the better. You can assist this process by not ever using their software and advising those around you to do the same.

  94. 94

    Bishoy Labib

    May 10, 2009 1:23 am

    I have a note on the file size issue.
    Starting from Silverlight 2.0 it generates a .xap file which is actually a zip file that you can extract the various project files from, including .NET assemblies that contains xaml files.
    This means that the non compression technique discussed above is not valid on Silverlight versions 2.0 and later.

  95. 95

    the author should have compared flash and silverlight in terms of server push too

  96. 96

    good one! this time
    i m bored with logo n other graphics posts

  97. 97

    bassem zaitoun

    May 10, 2009 2:36 am

    Very useful article ya Muhammad

  98. 98

    I’m not sure about the exact stats, but surely php is a more commenly server technology, so surely this is a pretty good reason to use flash. MS servers cost alot more money to host on, most clients would be turned off by this.

  99. 99

    flash is the best for me

  100. 100

    Cihan Yakar

    May 10, 2009 3:07 am

    Silverlight 3 supports standalone exe. Just right click and select send desktop..

  101. 101

    Justa few notes
    – Silverlight can be developed on Mac. See eclipse4sl (Also the cool part of Visual Studio is that you can connect the debugger into a website that uses the same .xap as the project)
    – Silverlight 3 supports standalones, better text, better codec support, 3D etc.
    – You can develop silverlight on other language (there has been some playing around with php also)
    – If your host doesn’t support silverlight you can host your apps on SilverlightStreaming that offers 10GB of space

    Overall this was an article filled with misleading information. I would have expected a little more research from SM

  102. 102

    An example of a strange whole flash site:

  103. 103

    sama creation

    May 10, 2009 5:04 am

    very nice article
    adobe flash is the best

  104. 104

    I’ve just seen this article, and after reading the first point, Animation, I laughed and decided to stop reading it into detail…

    “No need to deal with matrices like with Flash. Also, no need to calculate the positions of objects in various frames.”

    Well, there is something called tweens, you know… And taking a quick glance into the article shows a lot of wrong and missing info out there… no mentions of AS3 binary sockets, no mention of AIR, no mention of Out Of Browser Silverlight mode, etc, etc.

  105. 105

    I’ve played WAV files even point-to-point in VB6–that was about four versions ago from VB.NET 2008. Sorry, I can’t imagine that what is said about Silverlight playing audio is close to correct.

  106. 106

    Looking back at the mess businesses created by relying on proprietary Microsoft standards (IE6 development), why in the world would we want to repeat the same mistakes by accepting Silverlight as a new de facto standard?

    Even if Silverlight offered an overall better solution right now (it doesn’t), history teaches us that embracing a closed Microsoft solution will inevitably lead to a dead end, stuck with an outdated, stagnant and incompatible platform while the rest of the world continues to innovate around us.

    While this article seems informative at first glance, I can’t help but sense a strong pro-Microsoft bias.

    Personally I wish more companies would embrace AJAX, DHTML, javascript, and CSS for their enterprise web development. To the extent that closed solutions may allow similar end results with less time and effort, I’m a lot more comfortable relying on Flash than on any MS product.

  107. 107

    It looks like Silverlight is a free download as is Visual Web Developer Express and Visual Studio 2008 Express while Flash only has a trial for a product that costs hundreds of dollars.

  108. 108

    This was a sloppy, amateurish, and biased comparison.

    My guess is that you’re a programmer who understands nothing about multimedia and is excited to finally try it because you can do it in .net.

    You praise features in Silverlight 3 which was released only a few weeks ago. In contrast, most of your Flash info is from 2004-2007. You make no mention (or are completely unaware) of Flex, AIR, FMS, or any advanced level Flash tools.

    Animation: Flash is far superior with frame-based animation, the (time based) motion editor, and several tween-code libraries. There’s also After Effects and Papervision integration, as well as several 3rd party animation tools for Flash. There’s millions of Flash-based cartoons. In contrast, I couldn’t find a single Silverlight-based cartoon.

    Scripting: Yes, Actionscript. But also MXML, XML, FXG, and Javascript.

    Video and Audio: H.264 has been supported for almost 2 years; a codec so standard that every major Silverlight video project (except NBC stuff) has switched back/over to Flash. Also, nobody on Mac/Linux has Windows Movie Maker and you didn’t actually say anything about audio.

    Sound Processing: The diagram has nothing to do with Flash or Silverlight. It also links to (???)

    Text Representation/SEO: Text can be separated in Flash for SEO. Most of the time it’s not necessary.

    Socket Programming: I don’t know much about sockets, but the logo in your image is Macromedia Fireworks from 5+ years ago.

    Deployment: Flash is versatile – you can build all within a single file (as mentioned). But most Flash devs use external resources, XML, JSON, etc. Flash swfs can also load other swfs, to allow for modular applications.

    Windows Application: you completely overlooked AIR, which is a deploy-once, multi-platform format.

    Media Streaming: Flash Media Server has been around 5x longer than Microsoft Silverlight Streaming.

  109. 109

    The Flex SDK is free.

    Flex is a more developer/web-application centric development platform that generates Flash content.

    The article should have talked more about Flex, but in the end make up your own mind. I come from a Microsoft .NET background, but I’m using Flex at the moment (have never used Silverlight). Seems quite good.

  110. 110

    It saddens me that so many people treat this like religion and make asinine comments about what Microsoft is or intends to do. If you don’t even care to learn about the merits of a platform, it’s not surprising that so much of what makes its way to the Internet is crap.

    Say what you will about Microsoft (without having used any of the tools, I’m sure), but the NBC Olympics site to me was pretty solid validation about the robustness of the platform. Seeing as how they’ll use it again for the winter games, this time streaming HD, I’m pretty sure that NBC was pleased with the results.

    I like Flash, but I’ve never been a big fan of the development tools.

  111. 111

    I’ve used silverlight before and I was very impressed. Video and audio are quite superior to flash. When I tried flash video again, I immediately went to search for that exact video in silverlight.

  112. 112

    TJ Holowaychuk

    May 10, 2009 8:14 am

    Microsoft is terrible I would never install or touch Silverlight

  113. 113

    Aaron Martone

    May 10, 2009 8:24 am

    Whenever I think about supporting a Microsoft technology, I just remember one thing: “Microsoft Internet Explorer 6”. And now, I don’t have such a hard choice when it comes to giving Microsoft the middle finger.

    Long live Adobe. The only thing Microsoft has one upped on Adobe is that their support costs $250/call, while Adobe’s is a whopping $500/call. Still, I’m the kind of person willing to pay more for non-proprietary quality, and I love Adobe’s apps, Flash included.

  114. 114

    Fact checker

    May 10, 2009 9:16 am

    This article is a piece of sh*t with an obvious serious lack of research behind not to mention the comments are just a bunch of zealots on a closed minded agenda (with VERY few exceptions).
    It would be foolish to base any decisions on this article.

  115. 115

    Wow, this article touched the sensitive bone of programmers/designers on both sides!

    I think it was a very informative article. Thank you so much.

    For those of you who think Flash is too hard, you could start with Swishmax.

    cheers, from Tokyo

  116. 116

    May 10, 2009 10:11 am

    At first I considered this article biased towards Silverlight, as it makes animating in Flash sound complicated: “if you want to move something across the screen in 3 seconds, calculate how many frames 3 seconds will take, then calculate the matrices required for each frame along the way”. Calculate matrices? Wtf? Has the writter ever animated anything in Flash, or indeed ever animated anything? (In 12 years I’ve never thought to myself I want an object to move for 3 seconds, more like I want it to synch with this sound track (timeline) or until it feels like the right speed. Oh, no mention of the bones system either I see.

    When we get to the image formats he goes the other way, that Flash “supports almost all image formats”. Flash IDE can import most formats, but runtime we’re talking .png, .gif and .jpg (ok, at a push you could concievably read data from other formats if you write your own AS3 parser).

    Now I feel the writer is like a bad referee, who awards a penalty to one side, and then one to the other for no reason, just to even things up. So, not biased, just useless! Full of misleading or inaccurate information. Heaven help anyone who actually was looking for the differences between Flash and Silverlight.

    I can’t comment on the SL anomalies, but I would agree that talking about SL 3 is like talking about Flash 11, i.e almostirrelevant until it’s released.

  117. 117


    May 10, 2009 11:42 am

    I’m glad that there’s some competition for Flash. Although I love it and have been using it for years, I feel like the improvements in CS3 and CS4 have come with a lot of extra baggage which doesn’t have me super happy. Let me just say that the trend has me a little worried :) As far as developing goes, if you’re a .NET guy, then it sounds like SL is for you. Personally, I much prefer LAMP and so developing for Flash is more natural for me. Either way you cut it, I would be REALLY nervous about deploying a SL site simply for the plug-in penetration issue.

    BTW – if anyone is interested in a more in-depth discussion and exploration of Flash SEO, I wrote a post on it here:

  118. 118

    Silverlight stikes out with MLB. See this article:

    Major League Baseball (MLB) did a u-turn on Microsoft Silverlight as their choice for video distribution and went back to Adobe Flash instead

  119. 119

    One thing to note is that Microsoft is using their deep pockets to purchase interest in Silverlight. It’s not that Silverlight’s not a fairly robust platform. But getting adoption has been Microsoft’s biggest hurdle and they’re paying most of the major companies who’ve used Silverlight (NBC,, etc.) to use their platform.

  120. 120

    Lets keep it simple Flash for the web (animation, streaming, etc..) and Silverlight to replace ActiveX (well until an OSS competitor arrives then byebye Silverlight). That is all move along.

  121. 121

    please stop

    May 10, 2009 2:40 pm

    fan boi garbage.

  122. 122

    @Jeff surely you realize Adobe is doing the same thing.

    @ryguy and the MLB experience this time around blew as well with just as many complaints if not more. Maybe they’ll try JavaFX next time and get three strikes? I don’t think the problem there is with Flash or Silverlight.

    As to the rest of the folks who pick Flash because it isn’t proprietary: what are you thinking? Surely you realize that Flash is just as proprietary as any other RIA solution unless you stick with pure W3C HTML and JavaScript.

    Agreed on SL3 comments for now. It would have been nice if the article at least compared Silverlight 2 then to the current version of Flash/Flex. The article didn’t even do that.

  123. 123

    this is really the most superficial article about flash and silverlight i’ve ever read (including most of the comments). as an author, you’re entering a minefield making these kinds of comparisons unless you have profound, in-depth and unbiased information about each technology. such articles do little to help understand both advantages and disadvantages but rather upset fanboys of each technology. in general, smashingmagazine should really improve the quality of their information or stick to articles like “100 awesome wallpapers” etc.

  124. 124

    I wonder what your background is: Are you a programmer or a designer?

    I’m sorry, but I think you have missed the fact that the script behind SilverLight is .NET, meaning you have to pay a premium for hosting. Where as flash base solutions can be hosted on all servers.

    You also stated that flash animation was frame based. I rarely use frame based animation in flash anymore. I do it all via actionscript. So I would say that they are on par here…

    Video and audio support, yes SilverLight supports WMV and WMA, but not everyone can play them. So you have to download another plugin to play them. Sorry, but I like that fact that once you have the movie in flv/f4v format, all you need to play is the flash plugin THAT is already installed on almost every computer out there. And as you stated, SilverLight has little to NO support for audio playback. So I think you need give Video/Audio back to flash.

    I agree with you when you say that flashes SEO is poor, but lets hope they fix this one of these days.


  125. 125

    @125: Wrong. You can host a Silverlight app on a Gameboy, if it’s a Gameboy that can serve HTTP. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  126. 126

    Silverlight, making crappy .NET developers think they are creative since ’07.

    EDIT: For some background, I work with 3 .NET developers who don’t have a creative bone in their bodies. Yet they open up Silverlight and all of a sudden they think they have the qualifications to talk about front end.

  127. 127

    Seriously, it’s weird how many people will die saying “I hate microsoft” and have the phrase on their tombstone.

    I mean really…is microsoft really hitler?

  128. 128

    Jai Ivarsson

    May 10, 2009 4:41 pm

    As a video professional I would like to paraphrase what many people have already commented on.

    VC-1 codec is a video standard in no ones world except Microsofts where as h.264 and mp4 is a standard everywhere. In fact Flash supporting H.264 is what made me change from web video in quicktime to Flash as pre H.264 flashes codecs where twice as large as quicktimes.

  129. 129

    Its quiet fun to read this small war between Silverlight and anti MS faction.
    For any developer who is actually inertested I can just give an advice to have a look at the following points.

    1. More people got Flash then Silverlight, thats simply a fact. Of course I m not sure how to handle this issue since its actually microsoft who puts Flash on windows so silverlight might be just on windows as flash if its out of beta. But for now if you really care about this, flash wins here

    2. Databinding. If its very very important to have a central storage of your data flash got cairngorm and really easy databinding. Just add [Bindable] above something and its bindable (But i m not sure about all elemens).
    For they guys at ms: SERIOUSLY do something about this databinding. Most complex objekts like list or something are not even firing if an element is added. And what the hell is this overcomplicated stuff with the INotified whatever event. Its possible to bind and archive same result as in flash but its overcomplicated and you need too many workarounds.

    3. Sockets. If you are about sockets, both Silverlight and Flash can use sockets of course. As for me, silverlight here. Why? I LOVE XML SERIALIZE. Got a class? how do you send the data? write a own function for every class you want to transport over the socket so it is in xml? or just use the xml serializer and do serializer.serialize(object) and done. Most of the basic attributes are easy to serialize. Saves so much work its really really one big +.

    4. Threading. Well I dont know how you think about it but i think like this: Get the per frame update out of my UI Thread. Seriously. What the hell is Flash doing with the threads ? I used them and its one big riddle to me.

    5. IDE. I know I know. You all use text editor and are pro leets so you dont need IDE. No matter how you look at it the Visual Studio is just the best IDE i saw so far. Flex just cant keep up with this no matter what you say. It feels just great to write code in Visual Studio and everything is nice. Just relives lots of stress and speeds up my development.
    Really, this is one of the main reasons for me even thought its not really something essecial for the result but its just cool to have this IDE.

    6. Components. Flash components like textbox or simple placeholders are all heavy weight. Add too many to the visible area and you fps say bye bye. This is one thing Flash must fix. Silverlight components are much smaller and you can add many many many many more.

    7. Do not user per frame self made animations. It sucks in Flash and Silverlight.

  130. 130

    LOL @ the folks saying you can’t develop with Silverlight 3 yet – anyone with an MSDN account has been using it since March :v

  131. 131

    Jai Ivarsson:

    VC-1 is a very real standard. A significant percentage of blu-ray releases use VC-1 as the codec for the feature films. Ever heard of a little company called Warner Bros., or Universal Pictures? They use VC-1 almost exclusively for their blu-ray releases.

    Anyone who has actually used MS dev tools will tell you that they treat developers very well and .NET is wonderful platform to work with. This is coming from a mac user by the way :) But for development, its gotta be visual studio. Now this is possible and we can write code that runs on mac? That’s where I want to be…

  132. 132

    I think this article should have been written by a better informed author

  133. 133


    “I can’t stand it when people just blatantly hate on MS for absolutely no reason.”

    I’m pretty sure there are plenty of reasons, specially when it comes to the web.

  134. 134

    Nice article

  135. 135

    Nice articles

  136. 136


    I was referring specifically to VC-1.

    “VC-1 codec is a video standard in no ones world except Microsofts where as h.264 and mp4 is a standard everywhere.”

    Actually anything that will play a blu-ray disc supports it. Regardless, I edited that out because it wasn’t necessary.

  137. 137

    Flash is frame based. Error Flash from CS3 can be programmed from the timer object.
    Deployment. Flash contains only one swf file. This is up to the object design.
    ‘it’s worth noticing that a minority of web users actually have a Silverlight plugin installed on their machine’ Aint that the truth!
    Wish List
    Microsoft build CS3/4 support for the IDE/Microsoft ,’assist’ all of there users to include silverlight, it would only need an ‘update’.
    Microsoft need to give more backwards compatibilty, my IBM PC is not getting automatic updates when booting from basica. I have not had an update since 1986

  138. 138

    Daniel Greitens

    May 10, 2009 10:23 pm

    One fact is not true: “Silverlight uses XAML for its description language, and it is non-compressed, so the size of a Silverlight component is usually larger.”
    Silverlight uses XAML, thats right. But it is compiled and packed in an zip. So THERE IS a very good compression.

    Someone mentioned flex. When comparing to something, then you must compare it to WPF (which is much more powerfull than flex).

    Daniel Greitens
    MVP Visual Developer Expression

  139. 139

    Massimo Bastianon

    May 10, 2009 10:44 pm

    You should also say how old are they..
    Flash had a lot of years of testing and development, Silverlite is made in microsoft but it’s still a baby.

  140. 140

    Wow, this article has generated a huge number of debuts and responds. Nice article!

    Looking at the fundamental, Flash definiately has a upper hand when it comes down its features it offer. It is mature and it has greater support.

    However, Adobe comes from a grahpical designer perpective, while Silverlight comes from the programmer perpective. With the support of the .NET Framework, it is probably easy to create enterprise type of website compare to Flash.

    MS is definately catching up with Adobe interm of its features. It is only a matter of time when most of the machines will have Silverlight install. It is also a matter of time before there are Sliverlight supports for Linux (Mono is a good example) by open source project. MS is probably going to focus only on support Windows and Macs since these two dominated the typical consumer markets.

    Ultimately, whichever the companies provide easy tools to get the job done fast will win the race, because time is money.

  141. 141

    leblanc meneses

    May 10, 2009 11:00 pm

    are you positive silverlight runs on windows mobile?

    Q: Where can I find Silverlight for mobile and associated SDK for download? When is Silverlight for mobile available?
    A: Silverlight for mobile is currently under development. We haven’t announced any further details around availability at this time.

  142. 142

    Nice article………….. Smashing Magazine……….rocks

  143. 143

    You mention that the silverlight output is uncompressed. This is not true, the xap files is compressed and its very simple to add a custom build action to increase the compression further. I do this myself on all projects. A xap file is just a zip file with a different extension. (Typical gain 25% reduction over standard, note, standard, compression)

    There is no detail in this article and its poor by SM standards IMO.

  144. 144


    May 10, 2009 11:16 pm

    Thanks for the article and the many comments! Helps me to have at least an idea what the pros and cons of FS vs. SL are.

  145. 145

    Microsoft has always been a follower and never the leader…
    It can never innovate something drastically different.
    Silverlight will do all that flash will do, but nothing more….

  146. 146

    What cracks me up reading these comments is how people look at Silverlights current 25% market share as a deal breaker.. so I guess if a low market share is a reason to disregard a technology then I guess Silverlight not supporting Linux is just fine.. I mean that OS only has 1% of the workstation market.. so great, one less reason to dislike Silverlight…right? Flash was first released in 1996 over a DECADE ago… Silverlight version 1 was released in 2007.. and is now at version 3 and for the most part is on par with Flash. So all you people that want to harp on Silverlights market share better have at it while you can…. for better or worse it won’t last for long. I for one think it is for the better for both groups of developers as it gives Adobe a real reason to quickly improve their product and the same goes for MS. So far I have been pretty impressed with the speed to which MS has improved Silverlight. I think Adobe and the previous owners got a little lazy.. I mean over a Decade? By now Flash should just read your thoughts.. and BAM project done! I think that will probably ship in Silverlight 4.

  147. 147

    Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!

  148. 148

    Interesting read. I still prefer Flash, though. But that’s just my personal preference.

  149. 149

    @146: Just try pitching a 25% penetration rate to a client. Good luck mate.

  150. 150

    You don’t mention Flash Media Server, which is widely used for media streaming for flash !?…

  151. 151

    “Just about everyone already has Windows Movie Maker, but if someone doesn’t, it’s not a big deal because Microsoft makes available a free SDK encoder for producing WMA and WMV”

    Does this include OS X support?

  152. 152

    This article is not completely biased. The *ignorant* author does what he can to ensure that both technologies get what he thinks is a good representation.

    Here’s a flash dev’s quick POV:

    Animation: while time-based tweening isn’t completely there yet for flash, the article supposes that everyone’s doing timeline animation. hardly so. if you want my opinion, check out jack doyle’s Tween* classes. ’nuff said.

    File Size: totally irrelevant comparison. sorry. I agree with most posters: compare SL with Flex instead.

    Video: have you been on the internet in the last two years? flash is clearly on the ball with the latest video technologies. vc-1? industry standard? you’ve got to be kidding me. I read all of the responses here, laughing particularly hard at the ones mentioning that vc-1 was the codec of choice for dvds from major motion picture agencies. IRRELEVANT AGAIN.

    I’ll make this the last one:

    Accessibility: The author actually talked to someone worth their salt when they said that Google was working with Adobe to make flash accessible. I’m surprised no flash devs here brought up other efforts to make flash sites SEO compatible, namely Gaia (of which I’m a HUGE fan). SEO, not a problem. Dynamic text, yeah still a problem, but show me an ajax site that can have all its dynamic content indexed. Not happening because it’s not possible.

  153. 153

    @148 like I said … won’t last for long. You think Flash was born at its current penetration level? Some how clients went for it just fine.. so I hope that is not all you are pinning your future client base on. When Flash was born in 1996 Netscape had like 80% of the browser market and MS had around 15% and we all know how that turned out. In fact I think MS is pulling an IE all over again…does anyone doubt that Silverlight will be installed on the impending Windows 7? Anyone? I don’t think Flash will go the way of Netscape as it requires a larger investment (in time and training) for people to just switch willy nilly. Also, why are people are acting like having a user install the Silverlight player is some huge deal… ahh… it’s like a mouse click.. the same mouse click it takes to upgrade to the next version of the Flash player.

  154. 154

    Very helpful article together with all the comments it’s stirred. Thanks!

  155. 155

    To be honest, when reading this posting I felt it was a little biased to Flash.

    There are definately advatanges and disadvantages to both technologies BUT you forgot to mention XBAP applications for silverlight.

    Also, I would give this debate another 6-12 months and I think the bias is going to begin to be in MS favour. Silverlight is going to be on a lot more machines and v3 has a ton of features that will make it ia viable solution.

  156. 156

    My opinion is.. Silverlight has a long way to go… I can’t even think of a way to compare it with Flash.

  157. 157

    Andrei Gonzales

    May 11, 2009 2:17 am

    LOL. I learned more from the comments than from the article.

    Good one SM. Rubbish attempt at journalism once again.

  158. 158

    Enrico Foschi

    May 11, 2009 3:20 am

    Learned more from the comments than from the article.

    The article is pretty well done, but the comparison is from a very high level (and sometime superficial) point of view and many of the important details are still missing (most of them, in the comments).

    Personally, .NET code portability, integration and costs of development are the main features that convinced me to move from Flash to Silverlight.

  159. 159

    I can’t even begin to tell you how wrong this article is.
    The author claims to be a web developer of 8 years. HAHA. No.

    Nicely written, but you obviously don’t know jack about silverlight and this article is biased.

  160. 160

    I have been using Flash for years, but recently more and more business clients are looking into Silverlight because we are already developing on a .net environment. So far I found Silverlight quite difficult to get into, but very powerful in its B2B side application.

  161. 161

    @Doug S:

    > 1. Only about 10-30% of the web has Silverlight while 99.97% of the web has Flash 9
    > or higher.

    yeah, first it was 96%, then 97%, then 99% and now it is 99.97%. Nice. Can you prove it?

    > 2. The Flash Player 9 and higher support streaming of the H.264 video codec which
    > means anyone with a video program that can output an MP4 can stream to Flash.
    > There are literally hundreds of free apps on Mac, PC and Linux that can do this.

    Silverlight 3 supports H.264 as well. Silverlight has media pipeline which allows people write and distribute their own media codecs.

    > 3. The latest version of Flash Player supports 3D rendering. Silverlight does not.

    Silverlight 3 supports 3D rendering so you are missing the truth.

    > 4. SWF, FLA, FLV, and AS are all open-standard formats. Silverlight is 100% proprietary.

    Silverlight is based on XML which is free by definition. It is not propietary and there are free tools for building XAML. .NET framework has source code available.

    > 5. Actionscript is based off the same root as javascript and AS 3.0 and javascript
    > are extremely similar. Silverlight uses Windows-centric code languages that are
    > meant for the desktop and are likely only to be known by desktop-app developers.
    > Higher learning curve.

    Right, C# is based on ECMA standard as well. It is more advanced than AS.

    Oh, and my personal favorite:
    > 6. Silverlight is Microsoft, Flash is Adobe. Say what you want, Adobe does right
    > by the web whenever they can. Microsoft does not. Wouldn’t you rather go with
    > the company who doesn’t go out of it’s way to make your life harder?

    Yeah, I trust the company thaat makes a product 2x bigger than CS4 that installs 4 times faster. If I have to choose – MS or Adobe – I go with MS.

  162. 162

    Internetová agentúra

    May 11, 2009 4:43 am

    I must agree with gr8pixel (155.). If something is quite good and deeply permeated into system and developers too, i can see no reason for something like silverlight, not in web. Anyway, nice comparison of those two technologies. Thanks.

  163. 163

    Silverlight + Linux = Moonlight

  164. 164

    Tony the Tiger

    May 11, 2009 5:01 am

    Silverlight is the new Betamax, what a load of M$ rubbish

  165. 165


    May 11, 2009 6:10 am

    This is purely from the programmer’s perspective which is my own that I would like to share with readers here. And by the way I enjoyed the comparison done here.

    My experience is in Action Script that consumes .Net objects using WebOrb for the Flash apps in writing educational web app. My experience in having extra layer of WebOrb to consume .Net object was too much of pain. Code generator like CodeSmith was heavily utilized to make sure impedance mismatch from ActionScript to .Net objects mappings were minimized. Now there are many programmatic issues I can think of having .Net shop going with Flash and AS at least from my experience but it is possible and I seen it done right and company making lots of money.

    As for .Net shop going with Silverlight 3 is no brainer in my opinion because. EntityFrame, WCF and Silverlight 3 allows perfect integration. You do not need to be writing objects mapping from one language to other as described above. Everything is taken care by Microsoft Framework during the compilation. This to me is time saver and allowing me to focus on writing line of business and not worrying about persistence or worrying about consuming web services.

    Now when it comes to recruiting writing RIA only thing I have to look for is ASP.Net and c# developer who will fit right into writing Silverlight in my shop and I have millions of developers who are willing to dive into Silverlight and have pure designer to give us nice vector graphics.

    As for animation I think Flash and Silverlight can handle most of them. At least with my experience I tend to look at Flash animation examples first because there are tons of good stuff out there. And then convert them back to Silverlight. Many techniques and inspirations are brought from Flash into Silverlight.

  166. 166

    Andre Xavier

    May 11, 2009 6:11 am

    This is a great article and the discursion too. Congratulations to the authors and repliers.

  167. 167

    Interesting that the author uses the Silverlight 3.0 toolset to write the article but leaves out all the features.

  168. 168

    Andre Xavier

    May 11, 2009 6:50 am

    This is a great article because the discussion that it brought up. Congratulations to the authors and repliers.

  169. 169

    @Leon LOL right back at you. Nobody said you couldn’t develop an application with Silverlight 3. Just that having done so you currently have no way to deploy it. There is no “go live” license and you are violating the terms of the license agreement if you try to do so.

  170. 170

    Tim Acheson

    May 11, 2009 8:22 am

    This is article contains some useful information, BUT:

    This article requires further corrections and clarifications. In particular, key aspects and capabilities of Silverlight 2 and the.NET framework have been downplayed or overlooked. (I appreciate that the authors may not yet have reviewed Silverlight 3 which provides very many more features including additional media formats.)

    I trust that you will at least correct the following points in your article, as well as your conclusions and the table at the end. There are other examples, these are only the most obvious.

    E.g. “The deployment process of Silverlight is far more complex; all individual components need to be deployed separately.” This is incorrect. Even using the default deployment settings, a Silverlight solution deploys to a single XAP file which is directly equivalent to the SWF file created for Flash. In fact, the XAP file is simpler and offers more flexibility than Flash! The XAP file is simply a Zip file containing a highly compressed compiled DLL and potentially an XML file! Therefore, unlike a SWF file, the developer can create and extract an XAP file using standard Zip software and manually optimise the file size before deployment. With either Flash or Silverlight, it may be best to store additional assets separately.

    E.g. “Silverlight uses XAML for its description language, and it is non-compressed, so the size of a Silverlight component is usually larger.” This is wrong, or perhaps a misconception. If done appropriately, the XAML is compressed within the finished XAP file which is in fact just a Zip file. You won’t find a more efficient and well-supported compression algorithm for the web.

    E.g. “Silverlight doesn’t support playing the movie as a Windows application.” This is incorrect, and actually misunderstands .NET and misrepresents how Silverlight 2 fits into the .NET framework. Silverlight is a type of .NET project for building rich client applications for the web. Developers can use the same .NET framework and the same development tools to create equivalent desktop applications, but the type of project is called WPF which has the same features as Silverlight plus much more since it’s a full-blown desktop application.

    E.g. “SWF, FLA, FLV, and AS are all open-standard formats, while Silverlight is 100% proprietary.” This is simply incorrect. A Silverlight app can be written in pure XAML which is XML, and/or JavaScript, and the deployed product is a standard Zip file! But the expression”100% proprietary” is a strange way of putting it, more like the sort of hype we hear from entrenched Adobe or MS supporters.

    E.g. There’s no such thing as “Linux 5”! Also, I aren’t you overlooking Moonlight which is the Silverlight alternative realised through a collaboration between Microsoft and other parties?

    E.g. “Say what you want, Adobe does right by the web whenever they can. Microsoft does not.” The author(s) of this article can’t even contain their anti-MS bias. It’s disappointing, because what we all need is accurate, objective information.

    I’m pleased to see that you’ve already corrected the incorrect statement that Silverlight doesn’t support Sockets, as of course it does. But you haven’t updated the table in your conclusions accordingly! I trust that this undue bias isn’t intentional and will be corrected.

  171. 171

    This is a nice article to startup a discussion. But sadly, I have read some posts which weren’t made with information:

    1, Cross platform: I’ve made an application from the scratch to end like this:

    Underlying OS: Unix
    WebServer: APACHE
    Language: PHP
    DataBase: MySQL

    With this non Microsoft Tools, I served a Web Page that rederized the final app to the user using SILVERLIGHT. And as if this weren’t enough, the user were browsing with Firefox… so.. all of you uninformed flash workers,,, can do such a thing in flash???

    Notice that I didn’t even used the Microsoft Framework, nor Visual Studio, nor Expression Tools. It is true that it would be easier using the comercial tools I’ve just mentioned. But Silverlight uses XAML for all its representations. XAML is XML based and opened. So anyone could construct open tools for making the work easier and cheaper. Is there this possibility with flash???

    I found another “innocent” post (not to say stupid) from some guy Doug S. He said:

    “5. Actionscript is based off the same root as javascript and AS 3.0 and javascript are extremely similar. Silverlight uses Windows-centric code languages that are meant for the desktop and are likely only to be known by desktop-app developers. Higher learning curve.”

    As I mentioned aearlier, I built a Silverlight using PHP. And it is not the only option; you can use Javascript, Ruby and Python; that comment was really annoying; but well; those are the effects of the ignorancy.

    He also said:

    “Oh, and my personal favorite:
    6. Silverlight is Microsoft, Flash is Adobe. Say what you want, Adobe does right by the web whenever they can. Microsoft does not. Wouldn’t you rather go with the company who doesn’t go out of it’s way to make your life harder?”

    And that comment felt down under its own weight; He is just bilnded by his preference. I wouldnt hire a profesional like him. We need open minded people ready to take the best of the world around them. That’s why I have experimented with other worlds (for me) like Unix, apache, etc.

    Im creating a Silverlighted blog at and I would post about my experiment in ther. I’ll let you guys know whet it be ready. Can you make something like this in flash?

  172. 172

    Poorly researched and executed article. Many functional areas/comparisons are left out and the author appears to be ignorant of the entire marketplace, for example, the Moonlight project or .NET Sockets. This degrades their credibility. A sophomore-level article but it fails to paint a complete picture or provide accurate analysis.

  173. 173

    Lipton of Starfeeder

    May 11, 2009 11:00 am

    LOL?!? I’m surprised the SilverLight team still has funding…

    SilverLight is a joke, if its only purpose is to be a competitor so Adobe can lower the cost of Flash then good job SilverLight.

    btw Better at Animation? You guys gotta be kidding me…

  174. 174

    Microsoft still has a bad rep among web designers, and deservedly so. They will have a hard time pushing this product. The web design community is unlikely to forget the many additional hours put into coding web pages to make them work in IE prior to version 7.

  175. 175

    Couldn’t agree more with Lipton of Starfeeder. Silverlight better at animation??? eee….. did you use Flash ever before writing this? And one more – I wish to see a frame-by-frame 3 seconds long animation which takes 2 seconds to play while executing… Please.
    People like me are making cartoons, or fully animated web sites with Flash. And why did I choose Flash? Because of its reliability and possibility of crossing over hand drawing, rich & HQ video like MP4 or MOV, compressed and uncompressed sound, 3D and object oriented programming. Give few years to Silverlight to catch up with that – then we can start comparing.

  176. 176

    Good article but you left out something important about Silverlight.
    It is also processor dependent. It will not even install on my HP Compaq TC1000 tablet running windows XP with a 1GHZ Transmeta processor. Flash does however play.
    Because of this, that means no Netflix on this lappy.
    I believe SSE extensions are needed for Silverlight.
    Flash is becoming more difficult to play on laptops too. This may be due to high compression ratios as well as higher resolution video on sites like youtube and vimeo. So I like sites like that offer multiple stream resolutions.
    As hackers make it more neccessary to add security features to streams as well, it is going to become necessary to buy higher end equipment just to play online video too. Laptops that were perfectly fine for playing online video last year are no longer adequate, So buyer beware when buying a used lappy at auction.
    Even the much loved netbook could fall victim if developers don’t pay attention.

  177. 177

    Niels Bjerg

    May 11, 2009 12:58 pm

    Liked the thorough comparison, however it would have been a more equal comparison had you gone with Flex vs. Silverlight, which in all cases tries to solve the same types of problems?
    Also the moving of an object with a duration of exactly 3 seconds part is not good imho. You can easily make a tween (move) with a duration instead of relying on the framerate…
    Otherwise nice writeup

  178. 178

    although i prefer Flash (especially at the moment) it amazes me that some people (morons imo) saying “i choose flash cause i don’t like MS” :/ and yet they probably using microsoft products, either windows, office etc. i’m not a big fan of MS but this MS bashing by some apple fanatics is just ridiculous

  179. 179

    @ 174.

    How much time have you spent trying to thread 10 or more animations in flash at the same time? The fact of the matter is that you dont always know what the results are going to be, and when you start doing advanced threading, flash can bring your PC to a grinding halt. The reason why cartoons animate correctly, is because it contains a sound layer with the corresponding animation.

    The fact that SEO is not supported in Flash is very very very down played in this conversation. Flash has been around for over a decade and still doesnt have this BASIC requirement down? Any person working as a professional web developer aimed at creating traffic (we’ll, me for sure) dance around having to use it for anything more than an interactive tool with limited content, not even mentioning Silverlight, I have started to replace most things considdered to be suited well for Flash with AJAX, Javascript and libraries like JQUERY just for this simple fact.

    In terms of development, I am relatively new to Silverlight, so I am not going to FLEX my muscles here (no pun intended), but as far as IDE’s are conceirned, Flash is clumsy at best, and does not guide the users in any way towards writing better, more modular or scalable code. This is a personal observation, but I feel much more in control of what I am doing in .NET (Even though i have been developing in Flash for 6 years). The Flash IDE just seems a little old school and unnatural to me.

  180. 180

    Can Flash/Flex support TIFF image format, esp. Group-4? At least I still can’t get it work.

  181. 181

    Fuad Ahasan Chowdhury

    May 11, 2009 9:56 pm

    most of the web designer/developers doesn’t like microsoft due to some logical reason :) I prefer flash personally and before reading this article i didn’t know all of these things. thanks a lot for such good article .. I’m gonna tweet this. :)

  182. 182

    Since I’m an ASP.NET develop so I hope Silverlight success.

  183. 183

    The web sites/applications are targated for ms platform, use silverlight. But in genaral silverlight should be avoided by non ms developer; they should use Flash instead.

  184. 184

    I hope smashingmagazine has more Silverlight and Flash article. I think this two “hot” technologies. Thanks smashingmagazine.

  185. 185

    Chris Greenhough

    May 12, 2009 12:38 am

    Yikes. I think it’s time to rename this site…

  186. 186

    Tim Acheson

    May 12, 2009 12:40 am

    The majority of the information about Silverlight in this article appears to be plagarised from a two-year-old post on the forum which was inaccurate at the time:

    Furthermore it was written before Silverlight 1.1 and we are now into Silverlight 2 or 3 — no wonder the information is more incorrect now than when it was first posted.

  187. 187

    Are SM on Microsoft’s pay list? I dont understand?? Silverlight??? You must be kidding.
    I can’t take Siverlight serious.
    @Pete, you are for sure on Microsoft pay list…
    Are you serious?


  188. 188

    You seem to talk about AS3/Flash and SWF, these are different things and YOU DON”T NEED TO SCRIPT (or code) FOR SWF IN AS3, try haXe ( for instance, it compiles directly to optimised SWF files, is open source. And as a side note haXe allows media streaming from haXe based (or other ones that haven’t apeared yet) media servers. But I wont try to fool you, haXe is only really for scripting, and animation is easier within Adobe’s Flash, but of cause you can import these into haXe when you need to use them.

    For more info on haXe your should visit, or if you just found my explanation confusing.

    Otherwise the review is reasonably accurate.

  189. 189

    Nice attempt, but full of holes / superficial:
    – Silverlight 2 package is compressed. Xap file is really zip file. And there are open source Visual Studio plugins/tools for even better compression.
    – Image format support in SL is possible via open source libs. Probably included in SL3 (nr 2 on
    – Supplement: Managed C# codebehind is not (interpreted) script, but compiled to MS Intermediate Language dlls and fast as hell
    – Supplement to Platform Compatibility: Silverlight 1.0 runs on Linux via Moonlight. Support for Silverlight 2.0 is in pre-Alpha stage. Minimal diff with Flash
    – SEO: Wat is stated in the aticle applies to SL1. Compiled xaml pages in xap-file are not indexable in SL2, but SL3 solves this (with Navigation Framework). Here you can request seperate xaml-pages on url basis
    – Socket Programming i think is obsolete (synchronus communication). Asynchronus alternatives WebClient & HttpWebRequest are fine by me and keep the GUI more responsive. Policy file (crossdomain.xml) is also needed for Flash (is even created by
    – Webcam & mic support is nr 1 on SL3 feature req list (
    – SL Deployment story is total bogus (pic contradicts text): Everything in SL2 is included in xap. Evt. you could fire http requests for externe data as a result of navigation clicks, but you can also precompile all into 1 package. It all depends on the sort of app you’re making.
    – Windows app: SL3’s “Out-of-browser” feature fills this spot. With this any SL component can be installed as a Windows app

    For Silverlight 2
    – Tied on following categories: File size, Deployment (both half a point)
    – External data fetching (Socket Programming) seems better in SL to me.
    Instead of 9 : 5 for Flash i’d say 7 : 7 tie with a minimal lead on Platform Compatibility for Flash.

    If we look at SL3 the balance goes to SL:
    – Tied on: More Image Formats native supported, Windows app, Webcam & mic support (+ 3D projection support).
    5.5 : 8.5 for SL3.

    Actual measured SL & Flash coverage on our website:
    48% vs. 94%
    43% vs. 91%
    I am curious though if SL can get enough coverage.

  190. 190

    Tim Acheson

    May 12, 2009 4:40 am

    The previous comment is very useful, and its conclusions should replace those of the original article.

  191. 191

    Flash is good for micro-sites / games. (IE. marketing)
    Silverlight is good for apps + .NET (IE. functionality)

    Yes Flash can use XML / XLST for data etc; but its a round about way to interact with a .NET solution. Silverlight allows this, but is not as supported as Flash.

    Personally I love flash, if it’s done right; which it hardly ever is. I wish Silverlight would gain market share so there would be more competition; flash developing has been rather stagnant sans-XML the past few years.

  192. 192

    Tim Acheson

    May 12, 2009 5:27 am

    The two-year old forum post on which most of the original article above was based was been corrected and updated today:

    I trust that this article will also be corrected, as it some of the assertions and conclusions about both Flash and Silverlight are either incorrect or grossly misleading.

  193. 193

    Why reinvent the wheel?
    Flash works fine. Why would I want to learn Silverlight?
    Plus, I hate Microsoft and all their buggy software and browsers.

  194. 194

    Silverlight is just pathetic, it will never catch on for these three reasons:

    1. It sucks
    2. Web developers already know and use the 100% better flash
    3. As a standard for usability, extra plugin requirements are a huge no-no. So as any smart interactive designer, director, programmer would avoid something with a penetration rate lower than 80% unless absolutely required, which in this case…just use flash.

    BTW you’re wrong about flash SEO… has been caching all flash text since 2005…google and yahoo are actually way behind them on this.

  195. 195

    @bolomkxxvii: You are mistaken. Silverlight has it’s own mini, cross platform, CLR and has no dependency on the .NET framework being installed.

  196. 196

    Great article. Flash is better. Though I think animation is better with Flash because you can do it via time also and I stream with Flash all the time, so I know it can be done.

  197. 197

    50% of the comments here are astroturfed by Microsoft. Sad practice.

  198. 198

    Decent article, but on the Scripting comparison the author is comparing apples to oranges… he should be comparing Flash + Flex to Silverlight + VB or C#.

    Not 100% sure I agree with his taking on streaming either…

    You can do alot of the same things between Flash & Silverlight (I’ve used both), Both have decent features, but IMHO I don’t think Silverlight is quite up to par with Flash because it is so young.

    I can see a bit of bias considering the author works for a Microsoft Certified Partner.

  199. 199

    Since Silverlight is just a step-follower of Flash, it will find a hard time to stay in this world. Silverlight came too late, I think. Most machines have Flash Player while some users don’t even know what Silverlight is. They always skip the installer. Major websites such as Youtube, megaupload, imeem etc are using Flash, so that Flash is safe to win over Silverlight. I don’t think Silverlight lasts for long. But who know? Only the time can tell. ^^

  200. 200

    If you are a serious web design or web developer, you won’t want to use a young technology like Silverlight (it is even a new kid in the block) which you can’t find resources, helps, and the other developers easily. It is OK if you just wanna try or play around with Silverlight, but I don’t recommend you to use to build a site for your customers. Since many developers are anti-MS, you will find it difficult. Some devs don’t even wanna hear MS’s product name.

    So Flash is 100% a winner.

  201. 201

    Bart Czernicki

    May 12, 2009 7:30 pm

    Do yourself a favor and search for a job that requires Silverlight and one that requires Flash. For Silverlight positions you will see: WCF, WPF, C#, ASP.NET etc. For Flash you see Dreamweaver, PhotoShop, CSS etc. My point? If you are earning a living as a designer you need Flash. If you are earning a living as a developer…learn Silverlight.

  202. 202

    Bart Czernicki

    May 12, 2009 7:39 pm

    Just wanted to state one more thing…

    For all the very misinformed people saying “Flash rules and MS sucks”. Where is Adobe’s cloud platform? Where is Adobe’s web server and streaming services? Where is Adobe’s Office Suite product? Where is Adobe’s Map SDK? Where is Adobe’s collaborative solution like SharePoint? most importantly where is Adobe’s Mobile OS?…don’t exist right?

    Adobe is a much smaller company and when Microsoft starts throwing Silverlight into everything, Silverlight will be the RIA for business apps. Adobe is completely at the mercy of other platforms supporting it. iPhone with Flash?….ah that’s right. Microsoft has the luxury to throw Silverlight across its vertical and horizontal products and popularize Silverlight in a huge way.

    Check out Silverlight was at 19% in February 2009 and is at 27% in May. Its going to be at 50% by the end of the year. So, Flash fanboys use the “market penetration” arguement for another few months, because you won’t be able to in a few months.

  203. 203

    Vinimay Kaul

    May 12, 2009 9:40 pm

    Very nice, unbiased article. I have seen some user comments going against MS, but, it seems MS has made a good effort with Silverlight. Though, it is highly unlikely that Silverlight would replace Flash at this point, or even capture 50% share.

  204. 204

    I don’t want to use Silverlight for a number of reasons, but I do wonder if the garbage collection is any better than Flash plug 9 & 10.

  205. 205

    Just as we love the fact that there is competition in the browser market then one should also embrace competition in the multimedia platform market. It appears competition is only entertained by some when MS are the dominent player. I applaud MS for daring to challenge Adobe where no one else would have and they are putting up a good fight of it

  206. 206

    Tim Acheson

    May 13, 2009 2:00 am

    gingerman: “I do wonder if the garbage collection is any better than Flash plug 9 & 10.”

    Yes, if you’re familiar with GC in ActionScript 3, I think you’ll love working with C# and the .NET framework. In Silverlight or any .NET application, your code (e.g. written in the C# programming language, or the VB.NET programming language, or Pythin, etc) is compiled for extremely fast and efficient execution, and garbage collection is handled by the common language runtime. You’ll find similar garbage collection with the Java programming language.

    In contrast, with Flash, you’re limited to ActionScript which is is a scripting language. Garbage collection in ActionScript 3 is less useful, less effective, and less easy to use than proper programming languages like C# in .NEt or or Java in J2EE. Moreover, Flash has various potentially serious performance issues which often lead to serious performance issues, unless the developer has mastered GC in AS3 because there is such a high dependency on the developer having the knowledge, skills and desire to make manual efforts to stop Flash wasting resources. As other commentators have observed:

    “…new functionalities introduced into Actionscript 3 can lead to memory leaks.”

  207. 207

    Silverlight? What Silverlight? Silverlight is unheard of in this country and people won’t download and install something they have not heard of. 25% , probably in the US, but in the world,0000.1% is more like it. Most web designers are on a Mac, Silverlight is not a good choice considering MS’ crappy support for its competitors.

    Yes, Silverlight has improved by leaps and bounds—-but all the improvements are mere imitation of what Flash has already achieved. Silverlight to improve it’s penetration rate? Not likely, especially in a country where it’s unheard of and most likely be met with raised eyebrows and treated with disdain much like a computer virus.

  208. 208

    Tim Acheson

    May 13, 2009 2:39 am

    cyb: “Most web designers are on a Mac”

    Many designers use Macs. One of the problems with Flash and ActionScript 3 is that the best designers don’t necessarily make the best programmers. That’s why Silverlight allows proper separation of design and programming, so that designers can do what they do best while programmers can do what they do best.

    Flash is nice, but it’s enjoyed a monopoly for too long, and Adobe have been resting too comfortably on their laurels. That’s why as early as version 2, Silverlight has been able to offer something better. Give it a proper try, and you’ll understand. That’s also why we’ve ended up in a situation where so many of the rich client applications that we encounter on the web are implemented running ActionScript code written by expert designers, not by expert coders.

    Flash CS3 and the development environment offered by Adobe very far short short of the IDEs that professional programmers with expertise in languages like Java and C# take for granted and indeed depend upon for ensuring teh quality of their code and user interfaces. If you want quality code and superior applications, at the very least you require a proper IDE in which to develop, debug, and manage your applications. Adobe doesn’t even come close to doing that. Their offering is lame compared to any proper IDE, though designers who only know Flash may not yet appreciate this.

    Many development teams, especially those which take QA and user experience very seriously, have had enough of this; they welcome competition and welcome new technology and new working practices that can solve problems such as ads or media players which look great but can cause things to crash or run slowly or interfere with other applications on the same page, etc.

  209. 209

    I can not begin to comment on the inaccuracies and one sidedness of this article.

    “The Flash deployment package contains only a single Shockwave (SWF) file, and all images, text and animations are incorporated in this file.”

    No Flash Developer worth his salt would incorporate all the applications assets into one file, they are loaded seperatly, can be multiple swfs, jpg, gif, png, flv, xml etc.

    “A Flash movie can be compiled into a Windows application and run as a standalone EXE file. It can also be played on a desktop that has an appropriate Flash player.”

    Never herd of AIR? From browser to desktop in one click. You should try it.

    Shame on you Smashing Magazine for putting out such a really poor quality article. Will not be returning…

  210. 210

    o com’ on guys, ms monopolizes, he should focus developing in OS. adobe owns creative design tools

  211. 211

    Silverlight better for animation ????
    C’mon, it’s a joke !! The author probably never use Flash nor Silverlight…

  212. 212


    May 13, 2009 8:08 am

    First off, I’m a big fan of flash and flex. I’ve been working in flash since 1999. That being said, despite their claims, flash and flex are incredibly inconsistent in term of accessibility. Adobe falsely claims that these products are accessible, the testing I’ve seen refutes these claims. Adobe does a disservice making these claims to users of their products. The ADA is suing large companies who do not meet section 508 compliance and using flash/flex puts these clients at risk. I haven’t tested silverlight, but this could be a major advantage for using silverlight on government and enterprise level sites.

  213. 213

    Silverlight better..jaja!

  214. 214

    great comparison

  215. 215

    @Ian Smith: “So stop talking like Silverlight 3’s features are currently available.”

    There’s a distinct difference between not being available (vaporware) and being readily available with some caveats. Right now, Silverlight 3 is as available as Windows 7.

    That said, most of the innacuracies of this article were addressed in Silverlight 2, so it’s a moot point. The author plagiarized the hell out a forum post that was factually innacurate, plain and simple. Five minutes of fact-checking should have caught this, and would have if SM had an editor worth their salt.

  216. 216

    Stephen Buckley

    May 13, 2009 12:41 pm

    As someone who spends most of my working life building RIA’s in both Flash and Flex and Desktop applications in AIR I have my gripes with Flash Development. If you want a good development tool for programming large projects use FDT or Flashdevelop to do your coding the IDE Actionscript editor is a little dated to say the least.

    More and more corporations are turning to Flex for Line of Business applications, since some areas of Flex and Lifecycle data services can more efficent for large scale applications since you can send binary objects without the overhead of serialisation.

    There is however one major objection to the wholesale uptake of Silverlight in large areas of digital media industry and that is the issue of Designer – Developer workflow.

    By and large in Digital agencies this workflow is well understood, practised and honed by success under deadline pressure. No studio manager in his right mind is going to put his job at risk by introducing a technology that upsets that workflow, to only be able to hit 20% of his target market. If you think you can get designers to abandon Photoshop and the rest of the creative suite applications, you have not worked with many of them.

    In its full blown form Actionscript 3 is as rich and fully featured as C#, the AIR framework contains a HTML Display component based on Webkit and the new Text component library will allow you to build a DTP application or a Word type application see buzzword as an example. In the hands of a truly skilled developer, the programming tasks, the class framework and the quality of the end result and the knowledge and skill required are comparable to building a desktop application using .NET.
    A long way from the simple scripting of Actionscript 1. The only limit is on our imagination as programmers and UX designers.

    There is much to be admired at Microsoft and Bill Gates original vision, but they have lost the plot in too many key areas of what they used to do well, and the lawyers and the marketing suits have been pushing the agenda for far too long. It is noticeable that key Accounts in the UK are switching away from video apps using Microsoft technology to the Flash platform. In short my guess is that Adobe will have the upper hand for about the next 3 years while Silverlight struggles to gain market share.
    I hope I am wrong since competition creates innovation and I am learning Silverlight 3 currently, simply so I have a grasp on the strengths and weaknesses of the technology. (I need something to challenge “the little gray cells”) I have to admit that the early examples of Silverlight I saw lacked design finesse and looked like they were built by programmers from the darkest days of DHTML ;0)

    By and large the technology is irrelevant good programmers can implement their vision in any language, I am very often astounded by the passion of programmers in both camps and the quality of what is envisioned and produced, long may it remain so.

  217. 217


    May 13, 2009 1:45 pm

    > Flash uses the frame-based animation model
    > Silverlight … is time-based instead of frame-based …
    > No need to deal with matrices like with Flash.

    Flash animations can be frame-based or time-based. You can pin a script on a particular frame or a particular moment in time.

    > The original [Flash] video codec, Sorenson’s proprietary
    > H.263 implementation

    That is the Flash codec from 2006 and has been irrelevant since Google started moving YouTube from H.263 to H.264 in 2005. Since 2007, the Flash codec has been ISO MPEG-4 H.264/AAC. Flash even supports the iTunes metadata, which is not yet standardized, so you can, for example, open an audio stream with FlashPlayer and display the album artwork and artist info from within the audio stream.

    As for how you encode your video, you use whatever ISO MPEG-4 H.264/AAC encoder you prefer. Both Final Cut and AVID include these encoders, as does QuickTime Pro, which is only US$29. One thing you’ll have to do is make sure the metadata atoms are at the top of the file, not at the end, because some tools still put it at the end and that means the file won’t stream. There is a free AIR tool that swaps the metadata atoms on a batch of files.

    > Silverlight implements the industry-standard
    > VC-1 codec for video

    Which industry are you talking about? Certainly not audio video producers, certainly not the movie and music industries. The industry standard codec in music and movies is ISO MPEG-4 H.264/AAC (iTunes, iPod, iPhone, Blu-Ray, HDTV, Adobe Flash, QuickTime, camcorders of all kinds, media players from hundreds of manufacturers, digital projection systems of all kinds), and this has been true since just after the turn of the 21st century, when MPEG-4 replaced MPEG-2/MP3 which replaced MPEG-1 which takes us back to the early 1990’s.

    VC-1 is a Microsoft codec that was “standardized” by SMPTE (who have nothing to do with consumer video formats, only with editing tools) so it could be used in the now-defunct HD-DVD. NOBODY uses this codec except Microsoft. The entertainment industry did not adopt VC-1 for anything, and has never adopted a Microsoft codec. In the first place, most music and movie editing workstations do not run Windows, and that is where the VC-1 encoder runs. In the second place, we won’t adopt a codec that has a content tax, and that is all Microsoft offers (they want a vig on each file that is shipped, with MPEG-4 there is no vig, you retain full ownership of your content.)

    One of Microsoft PR’s favorite phrases is “industry-standard”. When you ask them what industry, they literally will tell you “the PC industry” and when you ask what makes it the standard in the PC industry they will literally tell you “because we use it.” The author of this article got owned here: “industry-standard VC-1 codec” is 100% propaganda. It is not important what video codec is the standard in the PC industry … what matters is what movie makers and music artists are making and shipping: MPEG-4 H.264/AAC. It is almost impossible to find a Windows PC that does not support MPEG-4 H.264/AAC playback through either Adobe Flash 9+ (included with Windows) or Apple QuickTime (installed on the vast majority of Windows PC’s by the end user.) Further, on mobiles the audio video decoder is an MPEG-4 chip (aka 3GPP) … if you want your video to play on phones you have to use MPEG-4.

    > Just about everyone already has Windows Movie Maker

    Not people who make movies.

    > Flash supports …

    Your list only includes FlashPlayer 10. Over 90% of the Flash movies on the Internet today will play in Flash 8 or 9 also, which are supported on Windows 98 and Mac OS 9.

    > Silverlight … Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (PowerPC),
    > Mac OS 10.1/10.5 (Intel)

    The above should probably be corrected to Mac OS X 10.4/10.5, unless Silverlight is running on the version of Mac OS X that was current from August 2001 through March 2002 or so.

    > Because Linux and Solaris support [for Silverlight] is missing,
    > users of those operating systems won’t be able to experience
    > Silverlight on their machines.

    This goes double for 2 billion mobile phone users. Although there is no FlashPlayer for mobiles yet (do not be confused by FlashLite that is very different), at least Flash and mobiles use the same audio video (MPEG-4) and there is demand for Flash. On the other hand, the latest mobile version of IE uses the IE 4 engine from 1998 (even though it is called IE 6), so I’m not optimistic about any cutting-edge Silverlight support on mobiles any time soon.

    > Flash provides no such service to host the content and
    > application with them. Thus, building a video website
    > with Flash is not as cost-effective as building one
    > with Silverlight.

    That is absurd. QuickTime Streaming Server is not only free, it’s open source. You can run it on a number of Unix systems as well as Windows, so it is easy to install on whatever Web server you’re using. There are also hundreds if not thousands of hosting companies from whom you can lease QuickTime streaming if you don’t want to do it yourself.

    Further, you don’t have to use a streaming server to stream audio video in Flash. For many projects, it’s enough to simply load the audio or video over HTTP. For example: YouTube! So the streaming cost is $0 in that case.

    Honestly, one must do a little research on AUDIO VIDEO when one wants to talk about audio video. It’s not enough to read a Microsoft press release. Microsoft does not have this expertise.

    > Flash stores fonts using shape definitions and the player
    > doesn’t understand TTF, hence we cannot separate the text
    > layer from the movie.

    I’m not sure what you mean by not being able to separate the text layer from the movie, but I can’t come up with a way that this might be correct. You can load your font glyphs from a Flash class or SWF at runtime, and you can load your text from XML (or other data source) at runtime. There is even a GUI (non coding) way to convert a TrueType or OpenType font into an ActionScript3 class so you can instantiate it whenever you like during playback.

    > The Flash deployment package contains only a single
    > Shockwave (SWF) file, and all images, text and animations
    > are incorporated in this file.

    No, this is not true. Although you can in theory make a SWF this way, most SWF’s load external media and other components. If a SWF plays sound or video, it is in fact very unlikely that the sound or video is contained within the SWF, even if you go back many years in Flash development. It’s common to load XML, CSS, PNG, JPEG, MP3, H.263, H.264, AAC, as well as other SWF’s at runtime.

    > A Flash movie can be compiled into a Windows application
    > and run as a standalone EXE file

    You can also generate an identical Mac application at the same time by checking one additional box.

    > Conclusion

    I don’t see how anyone with any knowledge of audio video or online multimedia could come up with the conclusion that Silverlight is better for audio video than Flash. I don’t see why Text is marked as better in Silverlight. I don’t see why Silverlight would win in any of these categories. There are simply no reasons here in this article to support these conclusions.

    The main thing with Silverlight is that it is well over 10 years behind Flash in development and maturity. Not just within the developer, where Adobe/Macromedia have decades of experience in creative tools, online publishing, multimedia, and Microsoft does office systems, but also in the developer community. With Flash you have a huge community that goes back 12 years and includes hundreds of thousands of developers, designers, as well as audio video people. You can find books on Flash that are specific to publishing video, or specific to 3D, or specific to physics-based animation, or specific to design projects or whatever you are doing. There are dozens of free Podcasts that teach you all aspects of Flash development.

    There really is no comparison here. It’s a joke to see so much clearly false data all in one article.

  218. 218


    May 13, 2009 2:36 pm

    > Textual content created with Silverlight is searchable
    > and indexable by search engines as it is not compiled,
    > but represented as text (XAML).

    Although SWF’s are compiled, there is no reason to store any content inside a SWF. The text for all of the Flash movies I made in the last 5 years was in XML, either in flat files or chunks of XML from a database. In fact you can store your Flash content in an RSS news feed, which is designed for indexing content and which Google ranks very highly, and which can be read outside of Flash by many browsers and even non-browsers.

    Another thing you can do with Flash is load an external HTML file at runtime and style it with CSS. Therefore, you can use a typical HTML+CSS website as your content store. Obviously, this is well-indexed by Google. When I think about how Google weights a full HTML+CSS website with RSS feed and SWF’s in there compared to a Silverlight app with XAML text. LOL x 10000000! You will get way more juice from RSS than from anything else.

    Further, even if you for some reason compile your content into the SWF, the HTML that the Flash IDE generates to show the SWF will have the text content in it, ready to be indexed. Even further, both Google and Yahoo are indexing compiled SWF’s, so there is really no downside to using Flash when it comes to SEO, and no advantage to Silverlight.

  219. 219


    May 13, 2009 2:53 pm

    > I’ve played WAV files even point-to-point in VB6–that was
    > about four versions ago from VB.NET 2008. Sorry, I can’t
    > imagine that what is said about Silverlight playing audio
    > is close to correct.

    When we say “audio” today in an Internet context we are talking about network-optimized audio, which has been “perceptually encoded” such that it sounds 90% the same but is only 10% of the file size. Perceptual encoding is what made audio practical on the Internet. It’s the secret sauce in MP3 and MP4.

    A WAV file is just plain PCM audio, like you find on a CD track. It doesn’t even have data compression like a Zip file, where you send 50 1’s as “50×1” instead of “11111111111 … etc.” Completely unsuitable for publishing music and audio on the Internet, especially when there is an existing ISO standard for AAC and the AAC toolchain is mature and widely deployed.

    So supporting WAV in Silverlight does not make it a consumer audio playback platform by any stretch.

  220. 220


    May 13, 2009 3:35 pm

    > With this non Microsoft Tools, I served a Web Page that
    > rederized the final app to the user using SILVERLIGHT.
    > And as if this weren’t enough, the user were browsing with
    > Firefox… so.. all of you uninformed flash workers,,, can
    > do such a thing in flash???


    You can load HTML and CSS into Flash at runtime, as well as easily get the results of PHP scripts. You can load data from any SQL source, you can in fact clone an entire website using only that website’s data (however it’s stored) in such a way that the website author can’t tell it is not the original website. I know this because I do this all the time for my own websites, which run as HTML 5 in all browsers except IE, where they run as Flash 9. The users do not know the difference. You can hold up an iPhone (HTML 5 but no Flash) next to IE 5.5/6/7/8 (Flash, but no HTML 5) showing the same URL from one of my sites and it is the same. Same content, same layout, same behaviors, same media, same animations, same dynamic compositing, same custom fonts. Flash has been piggybacking on Web content for over a decade and is very good at it. We don’t even optimize the content for Flash … the Flash layer has to use whatever it finds on the server in the HTML 5 version.

    Not sure why you’d want to turn a LAMP app into something only 25% of PC users can view. If you are not also serving an HTML version then you are ignoring 90% of your potential audience.

    > But Silverlight uses XAML for all its representations. XAML
    > is XML based and opened. So anyone could construct open
    > tools for making the work easier and cheaper. Is there this
    > possibility with flash???


    In the first place, Flash has had XML support for a long time. You can load in any XML, including RSS feeds (most of the XML on the Internet) at runtime, and you access the data programatically using E4X, which is the ECMA standard way of accessing XML with JavaScript. You can also load data from HTML, text, binary files, whatever you want, at runtime. Of course Google can index all this content because RSS is the most indexable content there is.

    Secondly, the Flash IDE is not the only Flash development tool. In fact, it’s not even the only Flash development tool from Adobe. If you want to make SWF on the cheap there are many ways. There is even a PHP library that makes Flash.

    However the Flash IDE is priced about the same as Microsoft’s IDE, so in either case you can pay a little money to get more utility or speed or features. My first Flash IDE was Flash 2 (1997), and now I’m running 9 (2008), and the total cost for licensing 11 years of Flash IDE was less than US$1500. That’s not only coding tools but also a full bitmap and vector graphics editor, video and audio encoders, QuickTime import, Photoshop import. You can make $1500 on one commercial Flash project, the market for that has existed for years and years.

  221. 221


    May 13, 2009 3:51 pm

    > although i prefer Flash (especially at the moment) it amazes me
    > that some people (morons imo) saying “i choose flash cause
    > i don’t like MS” :/ and yet they probably using microsoft products,
    > either windows, office etc. i’m not a big fan of MS but this MS
    > bashing by some apple fanatics is just ridiculous

    I’m a Web developer. What possible use would I have for a Microsoft product? I don’t use any of them. They are office tools … typewriter replacements. They use all the wrong formats, even the text encodings are not standardized. You have to constantly translate from Windows to the Web, even the pathnames. They are 10 years behind Apple or Google.

    Microsoft has by far the worst reputation among all software developers. They deserve to be excluded from your toolkit based solely on their reputation. However, when you compare the actual tools you see that Microsoft deserves to be shunned for technical reasons also.

    The worst thing right now are the people like you who continue to act like a Windows PC is the same thing as a Mac or a Unix box. It truly is not. When I bought a new Mac recently, it took me about a half hour to install BBEdit, configure Apache2 for virtual hosts, turn on PHP5 and other favorites, copy my entire website portfolio into the Apache DocumentRoot, a little HOSTS work, and I had dozens of sites up-and-running locally, ready to edit or deploy. During the next half hour I installed 2 DAW’s (digital audio workstation) and connected a single FireWire cable from Mac to MOTU pro audio interface and was ready to do world class multichannel music and audio.

    But you’re right … I should have just got a Windows box like everybody else, then I would have had the pleasure of discovering anti-virus software and bizarre Microsoft formats that don’t work outside of PC hobbyist space.

  222. 222


    May 13, 2009 4:23 pm

    > I mean really…is microsoft really hitler?

    Yes, duh.

    Not sure why you think they aren’t?

    A key is to understand what the word “anti-competitive” actually means. Microsoft has been convicted of anti-competitive behavior but people take it to mean “ultra-competitive” (better than average competitiveness) but it actually means “refuses to compete.”

    An ultra-competitive figure skater practices 12 hour days for months before the competition, she involves dance coaches and musicians, yoga instructors, whatever advice and training and innovations she can muster to make her performance that much better, to make her performance even more competitive than it would be otherwise.

    An anti-competitive figure skater pays a friend to put on a ski mask and hit the ultra-competitive figure skater in the knees with a pipe the day before the competition. There was a skater called Tonya Harding in the U.S. who did this about 10 years ago.

    Microsoft has never outskated anybody, not ever. They’ve knocked hundreds of competitors in the knee with a pipe, though. That is what they’re famous for. The most recent example is the ECMA standardization of JavaScript: Microsoft declared they would never support packages and namespaces in IE, so that was removed from the standard. Why packages and namespaces? Adobe already uses those in Flash and has for a couple of years now.

  223. 223


    May 13, 2009 4:41 pm

    > What cracks me up reading these comments is how people look at
    > Silverlights current 25% market share as a deal breaker.. so I
    > guess if a low market share is a reason to disregard a technology
    > then I guess Silverlight not supporting Linux is just fine.

    Linux already has a _STANDARDIZED_ Web browser that can view online content. I make the same website for Linux as I do for Mac, Windows, iPhone, etc. no matter what market share Linux has, whether it’s 1% or 10% or 99%.

    With Silverlight, Microsoft is asking me to generate WMV and other strange formats so I can show (wow!) audio and video to people in the Microsoft format instead of ISO MPEG-4 H.264/AAC. I can write code in strange Microsoft languages instead of ECMA standard, I can use Windows-1252 instead of UTF-8, and I can be at the mercy of Microsoft’s ADD business plans. It’s a lot of work to get less features than Flash and a smaller potential audience.

    Recently, I got out an old CD-ROM of Flash work I did in 1997 using Flash 2 and I tried to view that content in Safari 4 with FlashPlayer 9 on a Mac. Some of the HTML didn’t render correctly due to the font tag and other non-CSS being deprecated (CSS came along in 1998), but the Flash 2 movies played great! The Microsoft formats from 1997 are all long gone. AVI and WMA were EOL’d because of court actions (both are copies of competitor’s technologies, specifically QuickTime and MP3.)

    So building on Macromedia/Adobe technologies has worked out for me much better than building on Microsoft.

  224. 224


    May 13, 2009 4:53 pm

    > VC-1 is a very real standard.

    It is standardized by SMPTE, who have nothing to do with consumer video format standardization.

    The ISO standard for audio and video is MPEG-4, and has been since 2001. It’s also the de facto standard, because it’s used by iTunes+iPod, which has over 90% of the commercial music and movie download market, and represents about 90% of the post-CD music players in the world. You will also find ISO MPEG-4 in Blu-Ray, set-top boxes, camcorders, cameras, mobiles, and Adobe Flash.

    > A significant percentage of blu-ray releases use VC-1 as the
    > codec for the feature films.
    > Ever heard of a little company called Warner Bros., or
    > Universal Pictures? They use VC-1 almost exclusively for
    > their blu-ray releases.

    No, VC-1 is from HD-DVD. At one point there was a movement to make hybrid HD-DVD/Blu-Ray players and so VC-1 was important to that. However, HD-DVD is long gone and so is VC-1.

    Even talking about Blu-Ray as if it is important is a stretch. Apple sells more iPhones _per month_ than all the Blu-Ray players in the world. That’s just iPhones, and just one month. When you add in iPod touch, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle and the other 8 years of iPod then it gets truly grim for Blu-Ray. And I didn’t even count the 75% of all Mac/Windows PC’s that currently run iTunes.

    ISO MPEG-4 is audio video. PERIOD. It replaced MPEG-2/MP3 and MPEG-1 in exactly the same roles, which goes back to 1993 or something. Microsoft has zero influence in the music and movie industries. They have nothing there but their own bad rep from the PC business.

  225. 225


    May 13, 2009 5:11 pm

    > SEO, not a problem. Dynamic text, yeah still a problem
    > [in Flash]

    The key is to store your content in RSS or HTML or other Google-readable format and then load into FlashPlayer at runtime. There is no need to hide content inside an SWF or ActionScript file, or any Flash-specific file.

    If you just put your content on the Web FIRST, then it is available to both FlashPlayer and Googlebot from there.

  226. 226


    May 13, 2009 6:12 pm

    They both suck.

  227. 227

    FLEX vs Silverlight

  228. 228

    Sadly an article based more on google based research than hands on experence. That just makes the author look stupid.

    Half is talking about SL1 (a proof of concept release) the rest shows a limited knoledge of SL2 (the real first release) and then completely ignores discussing future developments, for either product. (Kind of vital for any real world project planning.)

  229. 229

    @217: “technology is irrelevant good programmers can implement their vision in any language”

    While generally true, the efficiency of a programmer is strongly correlated with the technology used. Some are either friendlier and/or or better suited to a specific purpose.

  230. 230

    John Graham

    May 14, 2009 5:42 pm

    Contrary to what is said above, there is tooling for the Mac for creating SL apps starting from V3.
    It’s based on Eclipse.

  231. 231

    Half said in this article about Silverlight is simply not true. Some of It was true in version 1.0 but 2.0 is out for couple of months and 3.0 Beta is already available for download. So:

    Silverlight is based on the WPF animation model, which is time-based instead of frame-based, so you define the start and end conditions, and it figures out how to do it. No need to deal with matrices like with Flash. Also, no need to calculate the positions of objects in various frames.
    Silverlight supports BOTH frame-based and time-based animations!

    Silverlight uses XAML for its description language, and it is non-compressed, so the size of a Silverlight component is usually larger.
    This is so ridicules that I’m stunned. XAML is the language that explains how UI is laid out. It is only small part of final Silverlight component… and most of the time it doesn’t influence the size of component all that much (.dlls with compiled code that explain the behavior take way more space)

    And once you compile your Silverlight project you get .XAP file (as in Flash you get .swf)… which is basically ZIP with all of your XAML, dlls, etc… meaning that all XAML files will get way smaller.

    The deployment process of Silverlight is far more complex; all individual components need to be deployed separately. The following components typically get sent to the client for each Web request of Silverlight:
    Again, stunned. YOU GET .XAP FILE DAMMIT! The same way you get .swf file when you compile Flash animation. And the same way Flash compiler generates HTML page with code you need to copy paste in your final page to load component, Visual Studio gives you HTML page & Silverlight.js

    I mean it is pointless to correct all of the mistakes in text as it is obvious that author knows next to nothing about Silverlight. I urge him and all interested in learning how exciting Silverlight is to follow this watch keynote of Mix09 and watch part of Mix09 keynote from 83:20… SL3 stuff starts from there.

  232. 232

    This article is terrible, it plagiarized a 2 year old forum post ( ) for a lot of its information on silverlight. It is a ridiculous to see the same wording taken out of a table for a clearly outdated version of silverlight. Unprofessional journalism at its finest.

    It REALLY would be nice if the author actually used both of the technologies before trying to compare them, just so, you know, they can actually know what is going on.

    This site is clearly very popular and it is disappointing to see material like this posted. Sure some of it has been corrected by now but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this article was posted in its original state.

  233. 233

    André Villela

    May 15, 2009 5:23 am

    People tend to ignore some critical points while comparing those competidors. And since most of the data in this article is outdated, I’m only going to add some spice on the subject Flash vs Silverlight.

    If you say Flash still mostly a Design tool, and Sivlerlight has millions of .Net developers all over the world, just forgot to mention that Flex can do all or even much of the Visual Studio features, plus delivering to web, desktop or mobile.

    I’m a Adobe user for about a decade, have played with VS since Framework 1… still good for programing but when it takes to user experiences, it lacks the expressiviness that makes Flash the intelligent choice. Think about if Youtube rellied on Silverlight… Adobe still making things happens, while Microsoft just follow trends and try to monetize as much as possible.

    Just my 2¢

  234. 234

    no matter how good or not, I avoid MS whenever I can and when I can’t avoid it, I use it in disgust.

  235. 235

    Burak SARICA

    May 17, 2009 1:44 pm

    Silverlight uses XAML for its description language, and it is non-compressed, so the size of a Silverlight component is usually larger.

    Please man, have you really ever deployed a silverlight app? Do you know what .xap is? :D

    This article gives what an anti-MS guy wants. Nothing more.

  236. 236

    Silverlight – late for 5 years. And it’s still undone. I think they need ~3 years to finish it (even if they call it 3-rd version)
    Concentrate on existed .NET technologies and software stability is better for users and developers of MS.

  237. 237

    Article is trash.
    It just try to show that Silverlight is something like Flash.
    In fact, Silverlight has a long long way to go to be as good as Flash.

  238. 238

    this crappy article is wrong in so many ways….

    first, to the author: get your facts right. you clearly don’t know shit about silverlight and are just whinging about it “OMG SILVERLIGHT ON MY INTARNETS MIGHT KILL FLASH BOO HOO AND I HATE MICRO$$$$OFT LOLOLOOO”

    and secondly, i believe all the posters saying this article is plagiarised. any credentials you had as an author / web developer have just been rendered completely redundant by you writing / posting this article. i guess it’s true you can’t trust everything you read on the internet. thanks for showing me that.

    i’ve used wpf & silverlight for a long time now writing desktop & web apps, and i can tell you that you’re not only comparing an old obselete version of silverlight to a newish version of flash (w/e cba to research it, like you apparently), you aren’t actually right about most of the things you say.

    congratulations! you have just shamed yourself big time!

  239. 239

    your mom uses silverlight

  240. 240

    Does it really matter when 99.99% of users hate both technologies so much they block them out with AdBlock, NoScript, and FlashBlock? Unless the website is selling a subscription service like, nobody gives a sh!t if a site uses Flash or Silverlight because it just represents another obstacle they’ll need to override to get to the information they came for.

    Wake up and smell the future: content is still King.

  241. 241

    Windows Mobile 6.5 will have a lot of new apps, features and technologies that will be included and introduced. Just to name a few: internet explorer mobile, live mesh for mobile, silverlight 2 for mobile, windows media player mobile, windows mobile marketplace,.NET compact framework, .NET mobile, compact framework, and SQL server compact. The Windows Mobile contact list will get a huge visual boost and be more touch-friendly as well, with larger menu items and an updated look. Microsoft has officially confirmed a new web browser for Windows Mobile, Internet Explorer 6. The hottest new features and apps include: My Phone–a backup and recovery service for contacts, photos and other data stored on a mobile device. My Phone will also be available for phones running Windows Mobile 6.0 and 6.1. The new Windows Marketplace for Mobile is a centralized place to buy increasingly popular mobile applications. Windows Mobile 6.5 features a new user interface and “honeycomb”. A customizable start screen with hexagonal tiles for each program that are designed to be easier to use on touch-screen phones. The Windows Mobile start menu can be customized with Internet applications like weather or stock reports, that are automatically updated. The new Windows Mobile 6.5 user interface is designed to be more “finger friendly,” You can also move icons up or down in the new layout. In addition, the new Windows Mobile Home screen will support special widgets, which will give status information like missed calls, new messages, etc. Another new feature of Windows Mobile 6.5 allows people to go directly to waiting voice mail, text messages or other information when unlocking their phones. Microsoft Recite, came out of the company’s research group. It allows people to record voice notes or other audio files on Windows Mobile phones and then search for keywords using their voice. LG is set to launch 50 new Windows Mobile devices over the next 4 years. And to boot you will get widgets in windows mobile 6.5. The widgets will appear to function just as full applications do, and will have their own icons in Windows Mobile menus and access to web content. The widgets will be powered, in part, by the new Mobile Internet Explorer 6, which will give them access to Flash and ActiveX controls. The widgets will also have control of the SK menu bar. According to Microsoft, the widgets can be written with standard web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, AJAX, and JavaScript.

  242. 242

    Tuyen Nguyen

    May 23, 2009 1:33 pm

    Thank you for your article, I find it very useful !

  243. 243

    hey , you really missed tons of features in flash, as far as i know , you really not know all the real world experience in flash…..and your articles is really far far away from the truth , i think you should rethink about Flash and Silverlight ….

  244. 244

    Animation————better———- bad
    Filesize—————better———- bad
    Sound processing—— better———- bad
    Platform compatibility—-better———-bad
    SEO—————— nothing——– bad
    Supported image formats –better———-bad
    Socket programming——better———-bad

  245. 245

    Dhananjay Salunke

    May 28, 2009 5:08 am

    Ohhhh… very nice article,

    I have experiance with both Silverlight and Flex, as per development point of view I like Silverlight than Flex…


  246. 246

    Edward Apostol

    May 28, 2009 1:07 pm

    This article does not appear to have its research completed, as indicated by the number of comments on this thread. If the objective was to garner attention, I am supposing that it has completed its objective.

    I recently did a presentation in Toronto Canada, on Microsoft Silverlight to the Toronto Adobe Flex User’s Group, and discussed with participants the pros and cons of each.

    Both Microsoft and Adobe are going “tit for tat” as it were regarding features for each of their plugins, especially since Microsoft has a strong desire to have a presence in the RIA arena. And the information provided above is far from complete/correct, so I would not trust it as a resource, but use it as a guide to base your own opinions.

    Tomorrow I am presenting to the department of the Canadian Government the pros and cons of Flash and Silverlight. I think most will agree that ultimately the decision will be the client’s decision, and a successful professional consultant will offer what’s good and bad in both technologies, and take into consideration the client’s audience, technologies, and existing skills base, among other factors, into account.

  247. 247


    May 29, 2009 1:28 pm

    The MS fanboi’s will be MS fanboi’s an the MS Haters generally come out blasting MS without knowing what the heck they are talking about.

    Truth is flash is a capable platform which has huge penetration compared to Silverlight. Silverlight is newer and younger, still evolving slowly, but for developers used to .Net / C# / VB.Net etc Silverlight is a GodSend.

    Flash has been around for years now, and it has more features..but SIlverlight is catching up. In the end though both are capable platforms and the choice for me boils down to what I am most comfortable with. If you are comfortable with AS3, and adobe technologies, by all means go with flash. If you know .Net then Silverlight might be more your thing.

    And don’t worry too much about browser penetration. SIlverlight already has deep enough penetration that its not going to go away. In time most people will have both flash and silverlight plugins installed. Did you know IE 8 comes with SIlverlight pre-installed on it?

    So bottom line, use what you are comfortable with. They both rock..and they both provide good features and good support.

  248. 248

    Nasser Lubay

    June 5, 2009 1:16 am

    i been doing some research lately of which is to study better… but i think silverlight is way better than flash especially when silverlight 3 will comes out… but silverlight should be aware of svg, coz i think svg might kill flash and silverlight, but i wonder why MS did not adopt the svg technology instead they made xaml…

    i think i’ve read this article in some other website… and i think they posted it first,
    anyway it doesn’t matter…

    im kinda confuse of what to study, svg is kind a same as silverlight,

    so which is better svg 2 , silverlight, or flash?

    i think i will study silverlight instead of flash, svg 2 is not implemented yet, i think it will be out with html5, in few years to come…

  249. 249


    June 7, 2009 8:18 am

    Why are you m$ guys dickriding on microsoft, obviously adobe is better in all aspects, the author forgot to mention several features in Flash that Silverlight does not have like 3D, ByteArray, Threading, & Video. I personally like flash, but since silverlight came out, my flash apps seem to crash in ie everytime, I figure that microsoft did that by design of having a ie update to disable or make flash unworkable in ie, anyways I use Chrome and Firefox which is way better.

    • 250

      Jeff Scherrer

      January 5, 2010 8:02 pm

      This is definitely a biased article. Many things about Silverlight have been overlooked based on lack of experience.
      File size is actually smaller for silverlight if you know how to use the tools Microsoft has provided in their toolkits. As well as all of the files are automatically zipped in to a .xap file by Visual Studio. So there is no need to worry about all of the files it generates. Some of the files listed like Silverlight.js aren’t needed on an ASP.NET server because they are already provided. The Silverlight.js just exists as a helper for sites that don’t necessarily have server-side functionality.
      The sound processing is somewhat lacking in Silverlight. Although Microsoft provided a way for your code to process incoming media streams before they arrive to the MediaElement. This is something that is done seemlessly without modifying the existing functionality. One example of this is Microsoft’s Smooth Streaming technology. This is something that this article failed to mention but is definitely worth noting. Expression Encoder will encode videos at multiple bitrates (generally about 8). And as your watching the video, the appropriate bitrate will be selected based on your computer’s processing power as well as download bandwidth. The transitions between bitrates are smooth. There is no jitter. The video just get clear or blurry. And videos always start immediately.
      The accessibility features of Silverlight are all the same as flash if not better. Silverlight supports close captions and hotkeys as well. And it seems the author just didn’t know about those features.
      Something this article completely left out was Moonlight. It is the Mono Project’s Linux implementation of Silverlight. Mono has some sort of contract with Microsoft to provide the implementation exclusively. And from what I’ve read, they have the Silverlight source code as a reference. So Silverlight is supported on Linux platforms as well. And Microsoft makes this known on their own site.
      I’ve found Silverlight handles images very well. As well as another format called “Deep Zoom”. With Deep Zoom your images are split up in to several files, much like the smooth streaming. As more and more information for the image is downloaded, the image becomes more crisp. Silverlight will only download the information necessary to display the image at the rendering size untill you try to zoom in on the image.
      Socket programming is very limited, but for security reasons. Still most scenarios can be supported with Silverlight. And time-saving tools exist to really speed up communication scenarios. Silverlight supports WCF (Windows Communication Foundation). This is the same framework that .NET has been using since version 3.0. In addition, Microsoft has provided a new product called RIA Services. Which allows you to do database operations and ui binding without writing any code. Aside from binding your xaml elements, it’s all drag and drop. RIA Services also has full customization for field validation. A really impressive toolkit, completely integrated in to Visual Studio.
      Silverlight 4 beta supports webcam and microphone. Sure they’re a little behind. But it’s version 4. What version is Flash at?
      I found deployment to be way simpler than the auther makes it out to be. Infact Microsoft provided a complete javascript framework to provide functions I used to spend hours searching the internet trying to find ways to do with flash.
      There is no mention of “Out-of-Browser” mode for Silverlight. It basically puts a link to the application directly on your desktop. It runs in it’s own window not contained in any browser window. As well as the entire Silverlight program is an ActiveX COM dll. So you can include it in any application. In addition, writing apps for Silverlight is the scaled down version of writing them for WPF and .NET 3.5. So if you wanted to make a stand-alone exe, you would just create it as that type of project. Code can be cross-referenced from both types of projects.
      I haven’t seen true 3D hardware accelerated graphics in either. Infact, what I have seen in flash looks like prerendered alpha video. Unless flash has a poor 3D engine and is rendering those “compressed video blocky” effects. I’m guessing if this is the case, 3D is prerendered in your flash designer. Silverlight does have support for true 3D transformations of 2D objects. Alot can be achieved with this, but still no 3D games. I’m sure some day we’ll see true 3D hardware acceleration from both. But until then, 3D alpha video is the best solution. As any 3D toolkits will be extremely slow.
      Microsoft also has a toolkit that allows you to export your 2D XNA games to Silverlight. This means the same framework you use to make games for PC and XBox 360 can now be used to create games for Silverlight as well. Simplified, yes? And with that hanging over their head, I’m sure 3D support is coming soon.
      Silverlight 4 beta also has full printing support and full mouse support. It also supports a wide range of new media services including downloadable digital copy DRM and full 1080p HD.

      • 251

        Obviously, this comment is also biased. For example, the “smooth streaming” as is worth noting, is nothing but a technique similar to the good’ol RealMedia streaming, sacrificing video quality for continuous playback.
        Silverlight is lacking in many respects, just like Flash is, but they each have their own specific drawbacks. Overall, neither of the two is suitable for streaming HD video, no matter what is claimed – this is from practical experience. Flash puts a heavier load on the CPU than Silverlight does, which makes Microsoft’s solution better for potentially embedded use, but at the same time, the actual quality of the result is seriously lacking.

      • 252

        hrmm silverlight smaller?
        ok well lets see that first off, you need the dot net framework which is about 30MB+ first off the bat. add that into your silverlight application file size total.
        compaired to the shockwave plugin + player.

        • 253

          What are you talking about J?

          The Silverlight 4 Plugin is ~6mb. You don’t need the full .NET Framework. Maybe you are thinking of XBAP, which is a WPF Browser Application.

      • 254

        Hmm… Flash can handle 3d pretty well for quite some time now and there are engines that take use of the hardware acceleration. Check out the Alternativa engine.

    • 255

      chrome is many time better than irefox

    • 256

      I think your reply may be outdated and based on Silverlight 1.0 or 2.0, but making 3D elements, animations, or just with words or any object in Silverlight is amazingly easy, especially when implementing Expression Design, and ByteArray is possibe with a very short amount of code, threading and video are spectacular in Silverlight, again I think your referring to an older version. Even this article is a little dated, and Silverlight 4.0 is coming out soon, hopefully some of the shortcomings in Silverlight will be handled.

    • 257

      There are so many things…

      1) First of all c#/ and the MS CLR offer great multi-threaded programming options.
      2) Web Services support blows away using sockets for client server communication.
      3) ByteArrays? Seriously? Have you even touched .net before? It does a VERY good job at this kind of stuff.
      4) There are so many other things… Generics, LINQ, parity with WPF for desktop app development, etc.

      Oh and performance… If you have to do ANY computations Silverlight will win hands down. The CLR is very performance optimized compared to flash…

      I still use flash a lot just because of the install base, but lets be fair with the comparison….

      • 258

        All you flashers out there better start reading up silverlight. or u might stop flashing and start blinking in a very short while. and it aint that difficult to get into.

    • 259

      To avoid misunderstandings:
      Silverlight does support 3D.
      Silverlight can be programmed (not scripted, like Flash) in VB.Net and C#.Net, and those both support threading, but also asynchronous models.
      ByteArray is also supported in both programming languages (like in C#: byte[], or List, and a lot more different collections).

      IE does not boycott Flash, in fact, Flash is just a plugin to IE. Also there’s no reason to do so, if IE would lack the support for Flash even the less technical persons would drop it.

      Just because Microsoft made something that could defeat Flash on several points doesn’t make everyone that actually tries it before complaining, a bad person.

      • 260

        Kadir Selçuk

        March 23, 2011 4:24 am

        Just an addition to your comment: SL has some engines like Balder (which is not released yet) for 3D. Also SL5 will have native 3D support.

  250. 261

    Very biased article.

  251. 262

    Nice article. It seems to me that flash is a little light technology. Can be created on flesh such site

  252. 263

    I want to add here, that the most flexble power of Flash is the code based animation. The Flash have various scripting libraries to make animations based on ActionScript. You have the native Tween, the Tweener (caurina), gTween, bTween, TweenLite, TweenMax, and much more. With Flash you have a community on the back giving you support arround the world, and powerfully tools, like Gaia Flash Framework.

    The Silverlight should work so much to become a tool better than Flash!
    (sorry for weak english)

  253. 264

    Did somebody care to mention that Flash has lead of few years over Silverlight. All MS haters at the end are writing S/W supported on MS environments to make living.
    Like it or not, a pure OO is much better than kludgy scripting environments. Its matter of time when both technologies will be comparable apples to apples.

  254. 265

    June 13, 2009 6:19 pm

    I used to love Visual Studio, then I discovered Flex Builder (Flash Builder now), based on Eclipse, which is a great development environment to build SWF files. I been using it for 2 years now, it rocks, and I won’t try to learn Silverlight.
    The funny thing is that I found a lot of support from flex developpers on the internet, whereas in ms world, it seems people don’t give information so easily…
    Also, the open source flex SDK is free to use, so no need to buy a flash license if you don’t want to.

  255. 266

    I personally know flash. But I have 1 question? why doesn’t famous browsers like firefox have lastest flash player install by default.

    My user face difficulty to browse my sites when they don’t have flash installed and its a pain to setup plain html navigation just for them.

    • 267

      Simple: licensing issues. Can’t include an Adobe product with a GPL licensed browser. So don’t blame the Open Source community, but blame Adobe.

    • 268

      Latest versions of chrome has flash inbuilt. Chrome (read google) will increasingly do this in the wake or Adobe Vs Apple war.

  256. 269

    I own Adobe Create Suite 4 Production Premium, Expression Studio 1, and Visual Studio 2005/8. I really like everything about CS4 and Visual Studio. I don’t like Expression Suite because it’s not mature, has poor documentation, and Microsoft keeps nickeling and diming me for upgrades to get the tools that support Silverlight. I like ActionScript 3 and C#. I like Flash, AfterEffects and Premier Pro. I like Media Encoder from both products, but I favor the Adobe Media Encoder because I use it more, and I refuse to upgrade my Expression Studio.

    I agree with 18. Phillip above. If you are building a web application, use Flash. If you are building a LOB application or an Intranet application in a Windows environment, use Silverlight.

    I have tried to keep an open mind with both products because I really don’t care. It’s up to my clients what development environment I’m going to use. So I can use both, which makes me more productive. I love this stuff, and I don’t care who wins.

  257. 270

    I’ve been develop applications for years and Silver Light is not easy task. There are a lot of bugs that you would expect to work but does not. There are standards in controls that are the same in both web and windows development. When you move to silver light for get it. Someone at MS wanted to redesign the entire wheel. The property Text for a textbox has been changed to Content. Give me a break! MS should have extended the Windows development environment to compile to a Silver Light app.

    • 271

      Sorry, thats not true. There is a property called Text, always has been there.
      There is also a content property. To develop in silverlight one has to understand what the content property is all about. Using the content property, you can nest controls

  258. 272

    God grief I actually read them all, and now I know.

  259. 273


    First of all, you are very blind by your preferences. So blind, that u got to lose don’t know how many hours writing your endless post. Obviously, I didn’t lost so much time reading it because of this:

    You said:
    “You can load HTML and CSS into Flash at runtime, as well as easily get the results of PHP scripts. ”

    That is a piece of cake for whatever platform!
    But what I meant in my previous post is that actually you can write Silverlight applications using the language you want. Even PHP. I’m not fucking talking about taking PHP data into Silverlight nor FLASH. Im talking about writing the APP using a non propietary language.

    So having read that, I noticed you don’t even read well, so It wasn’t worth for me reading your entire bible.

  260. 274

    I’ve written lots of technical facts in my previous post for this thread, showing all the Silverlight advantages. Not gonna repeat them…

    Just a final words:

    Flash! Oh yeah! It have been in the market like… hum… forever? Yeah.. that’s true.

    Flash! Yeah… it have 3D! It have a huge animation library. It is all around the world! Great!


    How long have been Silverlight around there?
    Just a little fraction of the time Flash have.

    How many features have Silverlight included in this short term? A LOT!
    Is now better than flash? Or have all its features? Maybe not…

    No enemy births as stronger as it could be, my flashers… but keep being afraid, cuz in it is lil infancy SL is stepping hard and the using statistics are grown and grown.

  261. 275

    Coming from both an artist and developer background, I definitely see Flash and Silverlight as two sides of a coin: Design versus Development.

    Flash is an amazing tool for artists, and if you’re making an animation or simple interface with a lot of (excuse the pun) flash, this is the de facto tool to use.

    If, however, you’re creating a web-based game or complex interface, Silverlight is most likely the optimal choice. It is built upon a development environment that is meant for this kind of extensibility.

    Coding a game in ActionScript is a pain. It uses the idea of frames, so the game loop can look a little funky. Its object-oriented support is also a bit weaker, due its reliance on Javascript. Being able to code a Silverlight game in C# definitely makes that process easier.

    • 276

      You’re misinformed about Actionscript. Doing your game and animations with frames is just an option, not a requirement. And it isn’t one that’s typically used by serious actionscript programmers. AS3 is also far more similar to C# and Java than it is to javascript.

      I would actually say that Flash is a better platform for games than Silverlight is. The display list heirarchy, event system and object model just really works well for this, as does the integration with their graphic tools. Silverlight is much closer to Flex in terms of how you author applications and what it’s great for creating.

      .NET developers interested in making games really should give Flash a chance. Learning AS3 after knowing C# is a breeze, particularly if you’re used to some of the newer features in C#. You’ll miss some things, such as LINQ, but you may find yourself surprised by the effectiveness of some of the solutions it has, such as E4X for dealing with XML. Creating event driven flow is quicker than in most languages (including C# – though I agree the delegate system there is really pretty nice), and in many ways I feel like the language lends itself nicely to encouraging good programming practice by not making it too painful to do. Adobe took a lot of ideas from Java and C# when they remade the language for AS3, and while it’s missing some features that make those languages mature, it IMHO makes up for it by having an API that’s second to none for what it’s meant to do.

      One tip for people coming from Visual Studio – I find the combination of the free FlashDevelop IDE and the flex sdk to be far more appealing to work with than FlashBuilder or Flash CS5. It’s nice to be able to create content visually in CS5, but for coding, I find FlashDevelop is far more enjoyable. Free is also good.

  262. 277

    Gay people will want to use silverlight – microsoft has always been gay and its “campus” is dedicated to homosexual activities and IE was designed to make it easier to hook up with gay folks on the Web.

    Straight people have been using flash for years and they are unlikely to move to silverlight. Just consider it another example of the “sanctity of marriage” excuse the repugs use against gay marriage.

    • 278

      Jeff Scherrer

      April 22, 2010 12:17 pm

      Hey Gay Joe,
      What’s with all the gay bashing? You know they say that what people hate about other people the most is what they see in themselves.

      And as far as straight people using Flash and gay people using Silverlight, my brother-in-law is gay and uses Flash. He won’t even give Silverlight a try. I myself am straight and use Silverlight. And I gotta say, it’s fun, it’s easy, and there is soooo much Silverlight work out there right now.

      Only an idiot/closet gay could be as ignorant as you.

    • 279

      Not sure fag vs straight has anything to do with it. I’ve managed Flash/Actionscript teams and I currently work at Microsoft. Most of the homos I found programmed in Flash since it’s a right-brained application. MS is all sand niggas so it’s left brained. So I guess it’s up to your mind training.

    • 280

      That is a totally un-educated thing to say… I never see Mac users program in Silverlight. It just does not happen. What coffee shops do you hang out in?

    • 281

      why you are irritating man.its not the discussion of gays and lesbians,its about silverlight and flash.may be you are the _____(fill blank)

    • 282

      Lol you are too funny rolf…

  263. 283

    Hugh Isaacs II

    August 9, 2009 3:31 am

    lol, the comments on here are crazy.

    Just to throw in my two cents, I’m not a fan of Microsoft or anything but from the direction it took, I prefer Silverlight over Flash.

    Flash does nothing that HTML5 hasn’t proposed, Silverlight goes on to support other languages and even offline usage.

    Plus Flash always seems to tax my computer, and I’m using a 2008 Mac Book Pro.

    In the future I don’t see Flash being used much except to include features for outdated browsers (audio, video, etc…), Silverlight I see being used for complete applications that compete with desktop apps.

    I won’t say it’s the death of Flash though, there’s nothing to say Adobe can’t just update Flash and add features to ensure it’s significance but right now I’m leaning towards Silverlight.

  264. 284

    A Good Article but I think if You compare Adobe Flex Vs silverlight then it will be better because Adobe Flex and Silverlight are companions and i am sure Adobe Flex will get maximum marks, as a adobe lover i believe Its Always the best as for as graphic and media soft wares are concerned

  265. 285

    Link Starbureiy

    August 14, 2009 4:16 pm

    Microsoft’s development tools make things SO easy to use. Just look at the Flash vs. Silverlight screenshots used here; it’s a no-brain comparison. Anybody who prefers framerates over the WPS animation model is someone who likes (prefers) arcane mess. AJAX is pretty dang, though. :)

  266. 286

    Link Starbureiy

    August 14, 2009 4:20 pm

    Microsoft’s development tools make things SO easy to use. Just look at the Flash vs. Silverlight screenshots used here; it’s a no-brain comparison. Anybody who prefers framerates over the WPF animation model is someone who likes (prefers) arcane mess. AJAX is pretty dang, though. :)

  267. 287

    one of the previous posters said: “4. SWF, FLA, FLV, and AS are all open-standard formats. Silverlight is 100% proprietary.” How can this be true if you are required to have adobe installed to open/read FLA and FLV files? where as with silverlight all you need is notepad to open the XAML.

  268. 288

    Besides, its fun to see the 2 (Adobe & MS) compete like this. very exciting, especially from a developers perspective.

  269. 289

    Simple to understand and Neutral comparison and the features taken to compare were practical.

  270. 290

    Mr.Muhammad Usama Alam and ur friend Anand Vedapuri…I am sorry to say tht u have not done enough research. And ur examples of comparision were not at all practical, they were actually lame……!!!!! All I want to say is before reaching to a definitive opinion please do some damn research. I am not a great developer or a microsoft enthusiast but I hate when people blab without proper research.

    . I am not a flash hater nor a Silverlight fan, but recently I just started learning Silverlight. So far except for the comment on the frame by frame animation..which u may be right, but for most of the other comments, they are lame and obviously lack research. Pathetic for a technically experienced and a magazine contributor. Sorry for the rant but I couldn’t help my self. Sorry. and a request.. please do research. pleaseeee. For gods sake ur a kind of journalists.

  271. 291

    you didn’t mention flash lite. It’s a very good implementation, and huge phone manufacturers like nokia now ship their phones with flash lite already installed.

  272. 292

    I am a software developer (I don’t develop on flash or silverlight). I develop on Linux at work and my personal box at home is also Linux. I used to be the windows hater guy few years ago, but I’ve learned to judge things on merit rather than propaganda.

    So I watched last night’s football game on, which uses silverlight for streaming and let me tell you I am impressed. I did a bad job with cooling my personal desktop at home and whenever I try to watch hulu videos on it, it gets my processor so hot that the computer shuts down automatically. Flash just sucks life out of processors. Silverlight in comparison is way way better. I can watch it without killing my computer. It adjusts the bitrate automatically and does not use much of my processor.

    I, as a user, think silverlight is better than flash.

  273. 293

    “but show me an ajax site that can have all its dynamic content indexed. Not happening because it’s not possible.”

    Of course that is possible!
    My website using AJAX and it’s completely indexed on Google:

    And I’ve done a complex project (A Website + A Desktop Based CMS) about a year and half ago (A multilingual website) totally based on Ajax and it’s completely indexed by Google!!

    Try Googling it!

  274. 294

    Remember too that Flash has a high level of support for Mobile devices like phones, PDAs and non-Windows netbooks – which is already turning into a huge market compared to Desktops.

    Microsoft will make sure Silverlight is only available to Windows systems.

  275. 296


    October 21, 2009 5:30 pm

    An important distinction between Silverlight and Flash animation should be made. Silverlight allows users to create ‘hand-off animations’ (animations that just define the end state of the animation). This allows users to create an animation that will resolve to the correct end regardless of the state of the app. Flash requires animations start with a keyframe making flash developers resort to code-based animation (tweening) to get the same results. However, a major disadvantage with silverlight is that audio and/or video can not be attached to an animation. This makes syncing animations to sound in Silverlight much more difficult.

  276. 297

    Miscrosoft is paying a lot of blogger these days, when I see articles like this one with so many mistakes I just remove it from the bookmark.

  277. 298

    Ok, a whole part of the article is not trus at this time, with Silverlight 3 (and soon 4), but I still think this article is biased, not intentionaly, but rather by lack of information. The one that is mostly untrue is the fact that the IDE is not free, it is free with Visual Studiio Express.

  278. 299
  279. 301

    I think you article is well done, but I disagree about de Animation issue.
    I notice you are not an animator.

    Frame base animation its what makes Flash the most used animation tool for web.

  280. 302

    Author of this article has never done an animation in flash – his explanation on animation is just ROFTL – have you ever heard about for example vector shape tweening – which is part of flash since it’s beginning ~2000, and in CS4 they (adobe) added a motion editor for character animation. Can you animate running elephant in silverlight ? with light vector graphics? With precise control on movement/time curve?

  281. 303

    What? ActionScript is way better than C[insert random symbol here]!
    I agree with Joe, Flash is WAY better than silvercrap!

  282. 304

    I think it depend on what we need, i think flash has good basic animation and graphic vector builder. In rich internet Application it depend on what script we ableto.., and silverlight has advantage for programmer that able with microsoft product.

  283. 305

    I’m getting a kick out of these comments. Most of the people are commenting from a low-level developer point of view with little regard to business issues. The battle lines between the Microsoft and non-Microsoft camp is very clear! I’m commenting from a user/business point of view. As a company, we have given Silverlight a try a few times, and (again, from a user/business point of view) is quite underwelming. The couple applications we have developed using Silverlight controls have performance and compatability issues. We redeveloped the applications using Wicket controls (javascript, not even Flash) and the applications are much better.

    I am also a user of American Express Concur expense reporting system. It is a key business application that Microsoft uses frequently as an example of Silverlight technology. However, it is very slow, and very browser version dependent. Our users hate it. As a company, we must have a very specific version of IE browser for the application to work. It won’t work with IE6, IE8, or earlier versions of IE7, and definately not with Firefox.

    Probably the two largest consumer sites that use Silverlight were the last summer Olympics, and Netflix. I watch Netflix movies on my PS3 and on my Mac – the Silverlight player software is very buggy, freezes, controls disapear, etc. In both these cases, most of the development was funded by Microsoft directly.

    Considering all this, the idea behind Silverlight is fresh, good, and promising. However, I would not spend my money developing direct-to-consumer or business applications using Silverlight. If Microsoft wants to pay for the development – maybe. Otherwise, our applications will be developed using Flash/Flex for now. From my viewpoint, I compare Microsoft in many of these development technologies to be similar to the Japanese/Chinese. They are not innovating the concepts – they are far behind other technologies. However, they are taking/copying the established areas and trying to catch-up with innovative twists on the things that are already there. Too bad they didn’t start 10 years ago, they may have something.

    • 306

      Microsoft certainly is attempting to leapfrog by studying Adobe’s technologies. There’s also nothing wrong with that. Having said that, I’m no fan of Microsoft nor Adobe. I have a job that depends on developing what the client *needs*, not using what technology i think is “better”.

      Also, it does no good for your credibility that you first lump the Japanese and Chinese together and then go on to compare them to the alleged non-innovativeness of Microsoft. The Japanese (and increasingly the Chinese) are highly innovative, and often perhaps in a way that the obviously superior people like you fail to see or refuse to see. In fact, the Japanese are already more innovative than many of the traditionally more innovative Western countries in certain sectors. I have nothing against the West (i’m a westerner), just as you have nothing against Japan/China, but many people get worked up over the suggestion that an Asian country can be more innovative than a Western one. And this relates to my point…

      So coming back to the point – Microsoft innovates. Innovation is not some magic thing. Just because you take the leapfrog approach (like Microsoft with Silverlight or what Japan did more than 100 years ago) doesn’t mean innovation isn’t happening. Ideas flow freely, and they are more often than not the basis for new innovation. So you’re arguing that new technology competitors must go back to the stone age and start from there, instead of innovating of top of current technologies? That’s reality.

      It’s a good idea to be wary of this kind of arrogance, because when you smugly think your beloved company, technology and even country is so far ahead in innovation that no one else can take over, sooner or later you may very well see them whizzing past you in terms of innovation and there’s nothing you can do about it.

      That is all very important in the business point of view. Just advice :-)

  284. 307

    Declan Fallon

    January 20, 2010 3:14 pm

    While there are some pure Flash plays in the financial field (Alerts4All springs to mind), there are a couple of Silverlight sites coming up the rails:

    Silverlight appears to offer more opportunities for development; but this is a non-techie speaking.


  285. 308

    I think Flash certainly is the better choice right now, but must agree that Silverlight has made great advances in short time.

    I just don’t wish it well because it just started to look like flash was gonna be the de facto standard for web animation apps and I was fine bcos I knew flash! now if this bitch becomes popular, I m gonna have to learn another new thing. This just sucks !

  286. 309

    Silverlight 4 boasts many new features even flash 10 can’t match.
    It also supports webcam and microphone.

  287. 310

    Probably should have compared the Flash Platform Vs. Silverlight

    Flash is part of a larger platform consisting of different runtimes, IDEs and SDKs.

  288. 311

    This is article is sad.

    This shows how media is capable of showing facts upside down.

    I am disappointed with smashingmagazine to present such inaccurate information . It is unfortunate that this article gets a high rank on search engines. I think smashingmagazine should be more responsible and not just bring articles from any author. This author obviously is not qualified to write about Silverlight.

    I feel bad for people who make decision based on this article.

    Anybody with a basic understanding of Silverlight knows that 80% of information here are just wrong!!! Sahme.

  289. 312

    can anyone explain to me..what is the differences between security for adobe flash and silverlight..??

  290. 313

    Microsoft innovates — Come on???
    Jack, are you on crack or something ever worse?? —
    MS is about paying for advertising while doing a crappy remake of someone else’s software… !

  291. 315

    I’m keen on silverlight since I would love to develop webs in visual basic (.NET)


  292. 316

    Javier Novoa

    May 19, 2010 6:13 pm

    Hi everyone, silverlight 4 is release 2 months ago; please checked out and then compare again…
    HTML5 rules

  293. 317

    Hey folks, I have a Silverlight 1.0 application and am trying to get the JAWS screen reader read out stuff about the content. I’m using Accessibility object and its parameters. I’ve referred to the SL1.0 documentation but nothing seems to work. Did anyone get this to work?
    Any help here would be appreciated. Thanks.

  294. 318

    am satisfied with this clearly explained me the differences between flash and silver light.But on seeing the comments am confused again,i think some of the features of silver light aren’t there in flash.However based on his/her requirements the developer can go for choosing either of the technology.

  295. 319

    Silverlight is now at 4 beta 2. Should you give a shot again at this comparison, you would be astonished how Flash is behind in almost all sides.
    Unless this article was done around Silverlight’s 1.0 version, I’m deeply sorry to see smashingmagazine serving such an inaccurate article.
    – Design purposes: probably Flash.
    – Serious applications: Silverlight without a doubt. (*)

    (*): But you still have to consider the lower adoption of Silverlight on the web (about 50%)

    • 320

      That’s being generous…try less than 3%. FLEX blows Silverlight out of the water and all of the big companies know that.

  296. 321

    I work on both.

    Develop in Flash => HELL
    Develop in Silverlight => HEAVEN

  297. 322

    I have used Flash and all the other Adobe Programs and don’t really have much interest to learn SilverLight just for the fact that Microsoft doesn’t do creative creation programs (Microsoft Paint is useless). I have never personally used Silverlight’s creation program, it being a Microsoft product makes me feel dirty when my browser pops up that I need it. I know that what ever that it is needed for could have been done in Flash instead.

    What about the creative environment of the program? Does Silverlight’s creation program support Vector art? Can you create artwork and animated it to the point that it comes a live like a cartoon? Flash has been a strong place for Designers that want to be creative. Adobe has been the creative program company, Microsoft is the OS company, that alone makes me doubt Microsoft’s usefulness in this area.

    If you can’t create art in Silverlight, I think Microsoft should just walk away… I don’t want them wining a war that would take away creativity from us Designers. Flash is more then scripting!!

  298. 323

    Silverlight is a waste of time and energy. C’mon…templates for every single item on the artboard?? The presentation layer is so ingrained in the application layer that a company can not smartly brand their application using this worthless tool. Our company reviewed both and found that FLASH/FLEX meets our needs and Silverlight is nothing more than a waste of time.

    Our designers can really work apart from the developers to create a true rich internet experience that is branded to company standards and not locked into a long, time-consuming effort to brand a Silverlight app. Blend does not speak well with Silverlight/Visual Studio and many of our efforts were simply dropped because VS thought it knew best.

    When you can build a simple template that encompasses all components on the artboard in Silverlight/Blend as fast as you can with FLASH/FLEX we’ll talk…till then I’m staying with applications that encourage the separation of the presentation layer from the application layer.

  299. 324

    Try to do something like in Flash/Flex and then we’ll talk.

  300. 325

    Liberty City Cops Rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  301. 326

    I think that the comment are too much more biased than the article itself. Actually the article is nice, and just traces a parallel between both tools. Obviously the writer has no one (or very small) experience with SilverLight. But – what the heck – I doubt that anyone here (or anywhere) can tell that has DEEP experience in SL!

    Anyway, I have seen people above speaking in defense of Flash and others doing the same regarding to SL – what in my opinion is very childish since as developers we would be always focused on find the better tools instead to fight each other in name of big companies. Come on, people – not MS neither Adobe will be sharing their revenues with you just because your passionate comments! LoL!

    Anyway, back to the point I think that both platforms has advantages and disadvantages. I am a Flash guy and a .NET developer for years now and my better wish would be to see Flash incarnated into the .NET platform (AKA SilverLight).

    However, as usual (and again!) Microsoft has released a product in a rush with an apparently unfinished tool instead to make their homework accordingly. It sounds at least as stupidity to release a web tool by ignoring Linux.

    I am about to develop a desktop application for the company I work for because they are MS freak and they want one of our old Flash tool converted into SL. It will be very fun for me! But obviously my situation is very comfortable as I will be paid to learn SL as by my bosses request, then even if SL becomes a big failure in the future I won’t have lost anything…

    However, for all the ones that work as freelance developers, I think that it is a dangerous bet. At least for a while. It may mean a big learning curve, and after then, ends as a faulty idea. In my almost 30 years of experience I have seen lots of great nice tools come and go. Anyway, I think that is better to be careful.

    I think that SL MAY be a great tool some day, but for now it just look like a nice golden pill. The fact is that I don’t think that it is fair enough to compare a mature tool with over a decade of attested success with a new born. It is not fair for both ones.

    Let’s try again in 3 years or so. And, of course only if it become Linux friendly. Otherwise, not even in century!

    PS: Just for the records – I am NOT a Linux user – I am only a realistic and conscientious developer!


    • 327


      You are exactly correct about neither company sharing profits for passionate comments. To me the important thing is which to is versatile and usable with many platforms and which has mad itself exclusive only to its developers other software tools,

      No different to the computer manufacturers that made their systems capable of using any RAM/video card/network card/etc… versus those that made their equipment proprietary. When you go the proprietary trying to force people to all you products, you force so many more away, that do not want to pay your Premium cost to use it.

  302. 328

    This article and all of its comments agents Flash are written by serious Flash amateurs, so I would not consider it as any reference point. Just looking on Silver lite code makes me laugh loudly. You have to write 10X more than in flash to do the same thing, and when rush hour, that is the only thing that meters! My vote is for Flash in all aspects!

  303. 329

    I think that until now, flash and silverlight are two completely different products and any comparison is just to be. Any real-life deleloper will certainly manage both of the environments, ‘do’ the job and go to next one….but i also think that in the same world, noone will ever have (i hope) to choose and propably noone will ever do.
    Silverlight development is presented, supported and distributed as a business application platform and is build uppon a rather large portion of the not-so-young .NET framework that will always be a business platform. With Silverlight you would propably create an Eshop, a CRM, an Enterprise or Educational Software, a Navigation Application or any type of content access software and you could do it rather easily by using the various set of tools and technologies that .NET has to offer. And even more you can do all that Accelerated, Animated and with some Effects , just like Flash.
    You have to be already a .NET developer and value the development-style that it promotes and it doesn’t matter if SL has disadvantages over Flash, or not still running on some OS – That is product specifications.
    As for Flash, i would consider using it if i had to create a very-very-very impressive presentation over the web, a commercial or even a game that would not require any serious communication with a server or data-exchange.
    To simplify things consider Silverlight a platform for web-developers with design skills (and demands) and Flash the one for web-designers with code development skills.

  304. 330

    i want car game script for flash

  305. 331

    Can anyone help me i want to learn Silveright or flash witch is good i need a honest answer plz guys

  306. 332

    Time proves it Silverlight is officially dead now

    Microsoft dropping it in favor of HTML5

  307. 333

    Silverlight is not dead! HTML5 and Flash are a subset of features in Silverlight 4. High end buisness applications such as SAP are written in Silverlight. Windows Phone will always use it. As far as the Mental Miget Colony of “open sores” software goes, you will always be angry because you couldn’t cut it with MIcrosoft products for development. So enjoy your 4% market share.

  308. 334

    I am not an animator or website maker. I am just a normal browser of websites, and play games and all that. I have to give an F to Adobe Flash. It always crashes and freezes my browsers up. Ever since Adobe took it over from macromedia, they ruined it. Macromedia Flash was much more stabler than now. I decided to completely remove Adobe Flash and use an alternative on my Windows XP system. Silverlight for my window based browsers, or the Open Source Gnash which can be used for Mozilla based browsers, K-Meleon, Opera and Chrome. Gnash is based basically on the old Macromedia Flash Player without the bloatware of Adobes. The flash player was not a security problem that Adobe made it out to be. It was just an excuse by them to add extra stuff to it that did not need it. The security issue was with Microsoft. Now, to go back to Gnash. I had it installed on a Ubuntu linux like system before, and found that it was much more stable with no crashes, freezes or script stop running error messages. Plus, it does not eat up all the resources like Adobe Flash Player does. Gnash plays Adobe Flash 8 scripts, and some of 9s. I am trying to go away from all Adobe junk lately like using Foxit Reader and all that. There are only three flash player programs out there for Windows system and they are Adobe Flash, Gnash and Silverlight. Maybe all the animators who make games and all that might want to check out Gnash since they also have a programmer program with it on building flash. I know that Adobe flash does hurt people who have older computers. I would prefer using Gnash over the other two because it is easier to use, and not a headache for people who loves to play games and all that. I really do not want to see a message all the time to update my Adobe Flash player when I have the latest update from the other two when they are installed.

  309. 335

    A lot of your points don’t seem credible enough, not enough evidence…

    One major flaw is the comparison of “what is a better animator” – a terrible approach!
    Flash was intended to be a fully fledged animation tool for frame by frame, tweening and more, your comparison is biased and does not represent fact!

  310. 336

    For the last 7 years as hobbyist I have been coding during my spare time using varies programming software tools. I have used C,Basic,Assembler and C# to program PIC/ ATMEL controller. I have spend almost 3 years trying build site from scratch using AS2 and AS3 using flash (Happy with the result) and PHP CMS (Epic failure but awesome) just for fun. Although, I am not a professional developer I have to say that I have no regret learning Adobe AS2-AS3 and it’s programming environment. It’s simply exciting and fun and the learning curve is so smooth since there’s a vast amount of community help resource out there. This is in contrast Silverlight. Saw it on “Start Program Menu” so was curious to find out more. Spend 8-10 hours (1 whole day) reading and watching their tutorials and realized that it’s the worst programming language (XAML) ever, in comparison any other AS3,PHP,AJAX etc. It lacks of maturity in term of coding and user friendly environment just to mention a few. For e.g Adding Button to make it appear the way you want it you have to write so many line of codes. “This is like going back to Square one after gone so far ahead”, Once again another epic fails product from Microsoft one just like Window Vista .

  311. 337

    Dear Len Heng. “epic fail product from microsoft”? I’m afraid that “epic fail” is only your comment, and really big one. Obviously you are a kid who doesn’t know anything about software engineering and hasn’t done even a high school…

  312. 338

    Flash is just afraid of silverlight in terms of superb animation.


↑ Back to top