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What is Silverlight? A Browser Plug-in for delivering RIA Earlier known as WPF/E (Windows Presentation Foundation / Everywhere) Cross-browser, cross-platform, cross-device implementation of the .NET Framework. 16 sec download (on a 2Mbps connection) Provides animations, vector graphics, audio-video playback
What is RIA? Rich Internet applications (RIAs) are web applications that have some of the characteristics of desktop applications, typically delivered by way of a proprietary web browser plug-ins. Key characteristics
Richness by way of features not supported natively by the web browser such as video playback
Advanced communications with supporting servers
Other Advantages Single, consistent runtime for browser-based applications. Performance is promising (Graphic card acceleration). There is an official open source implementation of Silverlight (Moonlight). Developed by Novell on behalf of Microsoft. Search engines can potentially index text within a Silverlight application, just as they can with Flash.
Conclusion The design tools (Expression Blend and Expression Design) are comparatively new. Silverlight is a browser-only solution (Adobe has AIR, a desktop and browser based solution). Development on Windows platform only (while deployment is cross-platform). Yet to penetrate market as Adobe Flash continues to dominate even though it is feature-rich and developer friendly.