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Microsoft Silverlight

CNET Editors' review

If you're reading this, you probably run Windows. And if you run Windows, you may have noticed Microsoft Silverlight as an optional update. If you don't see it, you've probably already got it; check your Start Menu, and if you see Microsoft Silverlight, it's already installed in your system. This compact freeware is a cross-platform browser plug-in for enhancing online content and media on desktop and portable PCs as well as mobile devices. Silverlight is sort of like Flash in that it enables richer content in your browser, but the latest update greatly enhances support for mobile devices and apps. Most Windows users can download Silverlight as part of an update, but you can also download it directly right here.

We installed Silverlight and clicked its Start Menu entry to open its Configuration tool. Silverlight mostly works in the background, but it has some options, too, beginning with the Updates tab, which followed our system's settings. The Playback tab has two options: one for enabling or disabling Digital Rights Management components, and another for hardware acceleration. We could configure multiple Webcams, microphones, and other audio and video capture devices on the Webcam/Mic tab, which includes a very helpful preview pane. The last two tabs handle Permissions and Application Storage, respectively. That's all there is to it, really; there's no need to configure it inside your browsers. For example, we opened Firefox's add-ons manager, clicked Plug-ins, and opened Silverlight's page. We could check for updates or disable the plug-in, but that's it.

So does Silverlight make a difference? You can see for yourself, but there's no need to toggle the program on and off to evaluate its effects: simply search "Silverlight demo" or some similar phrase. The results will certainly include more than one Web site demonstrating Silverlight's capabilities in a variety of settings, including some pretty cool cutting-edge Web applications. Or just go to Silverlight's home page, which offers a showcase with lots of examples as well as documentation, a community, samples, and other resources.

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All User Reviews

Results 1-10 of 55

  • 1.0 stars

    "If only there was a negative star rating scale..."

    December 8, 2013  |   By XLR8EDLiving

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.20513.0

    Pros

    Cannot think of any pros for Silverlight. I only know about it because Netflix made the unfortunate decision to use it.

    Cons

    I don't know if it's the cause of the daily hiccups with video playback on other sites, but on Netflix, Silverlight is a clusterf*ck.

    Every five minutes, the video playback lags about 5 seconds behind the audio. When I can tolerate that annoyance long enough, it catches up in a second or two of mildly amusing Charlie Chaplin-esque fast motion. When I cannot tolerate it, having to click and drag the slider to sync video and audio every thirty seconds or so is an annoying distraction.

    Seems to get better for a day or so right after I re-download Silverlight, but today makes more than ten times I have had to do so in the past six months; the third time in two weeks. I have tried using Chrome, Firefox and IE, with no discernable difference in performance, regardless of the browser used.

    Don't know if Silverlight has anything to do with video playback regularly not working on other sites, but I'm inclined to believe it does, because Silverlight bites.

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Silverlight sucks"

    October 22, 2013  |   By silverlightsucks

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.40624

    Pros

    Have yet to experience any...

    Cons

    With a new laptop, netflix worked great! Better than my older (about 2 years old) laptop. This older laptop had silverlight installed. Then netflix required silverlight to play a movie. This is when the problems started. Most notably, the audio and video never seam to sync properly. Most annoying, the frequent message that "The plug-in silverlight has failed." which of course requires a reboot.

    Summary

    Do not install silverlight or any other microsoft program for that matter. Microsoft is dead and propogating this death by continuing to use microsoft products is inhuman and cruel. Let microsoft die a peaceful death and move on. Maybe some day microsoft will realize they no longer have a legitimized-monopoly and need to actually write software that works!

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  • 1.0 stars

    "AWFUL. IMPROVING IS A NECCESITY"

    July 26, 2013  |   By ben-player

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.40624

    Pros

    none. ABSOLUTLY NOTHING

    Cons

    constantly crashes. doesnt allow me to watch sky go. poor. dowloading is frustrating!.

    Summary

    BADDDDD. NEEEDDDDS TO BE IMPROVED!!!!!! WORK ON IT

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Tends to load slowly"

    July 24, 2013  |   By elderbarryl

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.20513.0

    Pros

    Workx eventually.

    Cons

    Too bad it's too slow.

    Summary

    Please give me a replacement.

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  • 2.0 stars

    "Installation was incredibly frustrating!"

    March 12, 2013  |   By sarahhenning1

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 3.0.40624

    Pros

    Has let me watch part of a lecture I needed to see- the only pro!

    Cons

    As noted above I did need to install this to watch a lecture. Despite going to the webpage 2 hours prior to the lecture it only told me I needed to install it when the lecture started - 20 minutes, 3 installation attempts and a restart later it finally worked (after I searched for 'couldn't load plug ins' and got some advice). By this point I'd missed 20 mins of the lecture which couldn't be restarted and I'm so frustrated I'm ready to hurl the computer out of the window!!! Really annoyed and will be removing the installation as soon as lecture is finished.

    Summary

    Really frustrating to install - I expected more from Microsoft!

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  • 3.0 stars

    "Seems to crash a lot"

    November 12, 2012  |   By Rick1217

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.10411

    Pros

    still do not really know what it does; therefore, do not see any benefit.

    Cons

    Crashes whatever I am doing on the net without warning; just says Silverlight plug-in has crashed. I do not loose connection; and nothing seems to have changed so I have no clue what it does.

    Summary

    useless

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  • 1.0 stars

    "Crashed my computer"

    September 23, 2012  |   By nicolemoore94

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.10411

    Pros

    You can watch tv online with it.

    Cons

    Fried my hard drive

    Summary

    This program crashed my computer. It fried my hard drive. I had to get a completely new hard drive, and I lost all of my documents and pictures.

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  • 4.0 stars

    "I was warned not to get this program,, they where wrong"

    July 8, 2012  |   By tlgunn64

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.10411

    Pros

    It runs smooth - and if flash keeps going the way it is silverlight will take over and be the top program

    Cons

    none that i can think of

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Clean Video Plug-in"

    June 11, 2012  |   By Mike98

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.1.10411

    Pros

    Easy to install. No error(s) and no problem(s) with this version 5 on the contrary to earlier versions with corrupted files and errors when installing. My PC does not start slower with SilverLight on it. You can uninstall SilverLight via Control Panel, Software.

    Cons

    There is no con.

    Summary

    Try it, you won't regret it on Windows 7 64-bit.

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  • 5.0 stars

    "Very good program. Works very well for our needs."

    May 1, 2012  |   By funshinebear12

    Version: Microsoft Silverlight 5.0.61118

    Pros

    Keeps us updated on the latest technology for our desktop. Very good program.

    Cons

    none. I like it very well.

    Summary

    Very good program. Keeps us informed of latest updates for our computer system.

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Results 1-10 of 55

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