Microsoft pulls the plug on its Silverlight.Net site

Microsoft pulls the plug on its Silverlight.Net site

Summary: Microsoft has closed its central resource site for Silverlight and broken many URLs in the process. Fixes may be coming, but no word when.


Silverlight developers just can't catch a break.


Microsoft has closed its primary Web resource for its Silverlight browser plug-in and development framework -- the Silverlight.Net site -- breaking loads of links out there to resources and discussions on Silverlight, as noted by blogger Tim Anderson on ITWriting. Clicking on those links dumps users into a bare-bones Silverlight informational page on Microsoft's MSDN site.

The move added insult to injury for those developers who are feeling increasingly disenfranchised by Microsoft's decision to back away from Silverlight.

I asked a Microsoft what, if anything, the company planned to do to fix the myriad broken Silverlight links. A spokesperson emailed me the following statment:

“In order to streamline access to online resources for the Silverlight community, we’ve consolidated our Silverlight content with the library of information on MSDN. On October 2nd, we communicated to our customers that we would be merging with MSDN, and completed this migration on October 31st.

"We realize that some of our customers may have experienced challenges accessing links to content that had resided on the original Silverlight site. We apologize for any inconvenience and we’re working to resolve these issues for our customers.

"The consolidation of this content does not impact Microsoft’s Silverlight offering. We released Silverlight 5 in December 2011 and we’ve committed to supporting Silverlight into the year 2021.”

Microsoft officials did note that Silverlight would continue to be supported for ten years, back when version 5 was released to the Web in 2011. Since that time, Microsoft quietly rolled out version 5.1. Officials have repeatedly declined to say if there will be any more Silverlight releases beyond that. The rumor is no.

Update (December 21); Microsoft has fixed the broken links, as of the evening of December 20, officials said.

From a spokesperson: "Each of the 100,000 forum threads are now redirecting to their new thread locations on MSDN."

Topics: Software Development, Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • But rembember folks....

    But remember folks "Silverlight's not dead" (I used to get called a "hater" for pointing out it was being killed off)
    • Same here

      Yet another hard-earned Microsoft-only skillset to flush down the toilet.
      • Except that ...

        ... most of those hard-won skills are directly transferable to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps.
        • Re: Except that...

          The actual XAML and asynchronous data access skills LOB app developers learned for Silverlight are indeed transferable to building Windows 8 and WP8 apps. But, unfortunately, building Windows 8 and WP8 apps is irrelevant to the vast majority of LOB app developers. LOB app developers are not building Windows Store apps for the Windows 8 consumer market. They're building apps for their companies' internal users or, if they're consultants, they're building them for their clients. It's very unlikely that either of these groups of customers are going to be running Windows 8 or WP8, certainly not exclusively.

          Silverlight had two target use cases: RIA apps and LOB apps. RIA app developers have mostly used Flash and can, in some but not all cases, move to HTML5. Netflix is a good example of an RIA app that does use Silverlight and would have difficulty moving to another Web only platform. Instead, they seem to be building Web enabled native apps including nice ones for Windows 8 and WP. Good for them.

          LOB app developers, as I stated below, are being left holding the bag. They can either keep using any skills learned on the superior but apparently dying Silverlight platform, or they can just go back to doing ASP.NET Web Forms. There's really no other option for the MS stack that supports the combination of some RAD, zero footprint installation, and cross platform usage.
          Sir Name
          • Exactly

            @Sir Name

            Exactly. My company needed an Adobe Illustrator-like application that could run on Windows and Mac OS X, and that would be available to our clients with minimal installation. We got exactly that, making our own Silverlight application. In fact, it is better than anyone expected at the start of the project. It is really like a WPF application running in a browser, and available also to our Mac clients.

            I cannot imagine doing the same with Javascript any time soon.
  • What does this mean for Netflix?

    Browser based Netflix uses Silverlight because of DRM. Does this mean they will need to change? Netflix has said they aren't reassured by HTML 5 yet.
    • No problem

      " Silverlight would continue to be supported for ten years, "
      Netflix could be gone by that time. HTML 7 would be the new hot standard and javascript would be used only by nostalgic seniors :)
      • HTML6

        IMO, in 10 years HTML6 will still be a draft.
      • javascript

        This is one nostalgic senior who won't be lamenting the death of javascript. Now if only someone could "fix" HTML 5.
  • The site seems to be working

    The URL correctly redirects to an MSDN page with all of the getting started information still available. I didn't chase all of the links, but it seems to be whole. It is possible that folks who have deep links into will see those fail. But the move to MSDN URLs seems to have retained everything and still encourages development. (There are still non-MSDN URLs for some of the content, just not on pages.)
  • Not the only one

    Microsoft also closed the WPF and Windows Forms site, and redirects it to MSDN as well.
  • Thanks for nothing, Microsoft

    Four years ago, we decided to build the front-end for our product as a Silverlight app. It needed to be very robust and interactive, that that just wasn't practical with HTML at the time (and still tough today).

    Today, we are working to redevelop our app in HTML so that we can abandon our Silverlight-based products. But it didn't have to be that way. There is no technical reason why Silverlight couldn't work in Win8. It didn't have to die. Not so abruptly, at least. For me, the biggest slap in the face is that flash is still allowed in Win8's IE10 metro browser, but Silverlight isn't.
    • We tried to tell you

      You wouldn't listen. So now go cert up on their "next big thing" because you people never learn. Or get off the train to crazytown.
  • Microsoft re-jigs it's MSDN docs every now and then

    The links go dead for a couple or three days and then presto, everything works again. It's a make work project for their doc team, I think
    • These

      sites were designed to be separate from MSDN, serving content about a specific technology, without having to wade through MSDN. MSDN tends to push only the latest technology and tools (like VS2012), and if you want and are using older technologies its tough to find anything.
  • Sinofsky's legacy continues

    LOB application developers have always been one of MS's strongest and most loyal key constituencies. Silverlight was (is? who the hell knows?) going to be the pinnacle go to development platform for that group. Silverlight's technology offered the promise of everything that traditional MS Windows or Web based development platforms both did and didn't have. It was created by developers for developers and it showed.

    Unfortunately, someone at MS decided that it had the potential to be too much of a threat to something (their own personal divisional empire? the Windows client OS itself?). So management, lead by Steven Sinofsky, among others, decided it had to be shut down all of a sudden just when it was reaching a level of significant functional maturity. Instead, we now have Metro-style (or whatever they're calling them this week) apps as the platform MS is trying to push us all onto. Apparently MS management convinced themselves that all the cool web hacker kids would fall all over themselves to develop for Windows 8 if they made it so they could do so with HTML/JavaScript. Which just goes to prove the accuracy of what Robert Downey, Jr. said in "Tropic Thunder" - never go full retard. Good luck with that.

    Well, Metro style apps, even XAML based ones, are a non-starter for LOB developers for one simple reason - they only work on Windows 8. I actually like Windows 8 a lot and have been using it on both my desktop and laptop development machines since RTM. But I won't be doing any Windows 8 development in the foreseeable future. My clients have a heterogeneous bunch of client machines that I need to support. Silverlight would have covered them all, but since that's a dead end (thanks, MS management!) and I need both RAD (which leaves out MVC) and zero footprint installs (which leaves out Win Forms, WPF, and, ick, native C++), I'm only left with one viable platform - old, dirty ASP.NET Web Forms. It gets the job done, but not without a cost.

    MS management has assuredly been doing their utmost to alienate their LOB developers. I wonder if they've noticed?
    Sir Name
    • That they have

      and, for those not using VS2012 (me and many others) we have been shut out in the cold once again.
    • “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” Stephen King, The Dark Tower

      I can't agree with you more. We have developed pretty successful Silverlight application only to drop and kill it.
      As for LOB application I wonder if it's time to jump off the MS platform altogether. Too may failing promises and killed products. If you look around you will see lots of amazing things things outside of MS world. I reluctantly looking at F# and wonder if it worth investments. It may be that one day MS would just pull plug on this. I think I would be better off investing my time in Scala and Clojure. Anyway, [Subject]
      • Oh yeah

        "As for LOB application I wonder if it's time to jump off the MS platform altogether. Too may failing promises and killed products. If you look around you will see lots of amazing things things outside of MS world."

        Ya think?
      • RE: “Go then, there are other worlds than these.” Stephen King, The Dark To

        Re F# - unlike Silverlight, F# is open source and cross-platform with an independent foundation backing it plus Microsoft. It runs on all sorts of platforms (Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, HTML5, .NET, GPGPU, ...). See