Silverlight End-of-Life Strategies

Microsoft Support Ends in October 2021, Leaving Thousands of Enterprise Applications In Limbo

Businesses around the globe have built mission critical systems, services, and applications using Microsoft’s Silverlight platform. With support for the platform ending on October 12, 2021, Silverlight based software will soon be open to substantial new security threats.  There is a narrow window of time remaining to replatform or rebuild  Silverlight based software. Theorem can help your organization define and execute on a strategy and migrate towards open standards-based development environment.

History of Microsoft Silverlight

History of Silverlight

In 2007 Microsoft introduced a revolutionary new set of developer tools to facilitate web development. Its goals were to offer cross-browser compatibility with a focus on  using UI elements such as animation and video.

Trends in Tooling

When Microsoft Silverlight was released, browsers and computers utilized client-side logic and associated plugins to drive rich web experiences. This was reflected with three main client-side technologies: Java, Flash, and Silverlight.

Tooling trends

These rich plugins offered many features then not available to users of browsers without plugins. Especially with the emergence of streaming video systems platforms. Netflix, and Amazon Video both used Silverlight, Youtube utilized Flash.

Platforms using Silverlight

Browser-side plugins have several disadvantages, and over time trends for tooling drastically shifted from being dominated by Java, Flash, and Silverlight to almost exclusively Javascript based logic in the form of asynchronous javascript libraries (AJAX) and HTML5.

This trend in tooling has provided a number of advantages that have driven it’s adoption, specifically ubiquitous browser support, especially on mobile devices where plugins are less feasible than on desktop platforms, and security.

As a result Silverlight, and Flash are effectively being eliminated from use.

Client Site Programming Languages in 2020

Chart of popular programming languages

Percentages of websites using various client-side programming languages. A website might use more than one client-side programming language. W3Techs.com, 15 July 2020

Microsoft ends development and support

In July of 2015, Microsoft announced the support end date for Silverlight 5 to be October 2021.

In practice, support among browsers has already ended. Silverlight is no longer supported in Google Chrome (since September 2015), and in Firefox (since March 2017). There isn’t event a Silverlight plugin available for Microsoft’s own Edge platform. The Silverlight development framework is currently only supported on Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11, and support for Internet Explorer 10 ended on January 31, 2020. Silverlight itself won’t be downloadable after October 12, 2021.

Once  support ends patches and updates will no longer be released by Microsoft. The  major risk, of course, is that security vulnerabilities will no longer be addressed and could leave Silverlight based applications open to significant risk of breach.

Browsers that no longer support Silverlight

This leaves older versions of Internet Explorer to be the only browsers that can run Silverlight applications. These older versions of Internet Explorer (IE) create their own support problems in the form of limited operating system compatibility, and lack of security related updates. Most companies are systematically rolling off older versions of IE for this reason.

Modernization Strategies

Modernizing a legacy system is a great opportunity for enhancement and cost-saving measures, such as modern DevOps and infrastructure backend support systems and even entirely new ways of using technology - e.g. mobile interfaces.

With the sunset of Silverlight quickly approaching, time is of the essence for modernizing existing applications to utilize modern techniques in browser-related tooling.

At Theorem we provide modernization services for our customers with legacy Silverlight applications. If you have systems and applications built with Silverlight please get in touch with us. We can provide a complimentary assessment of your legacy systems and develop an integrated modernization plan.

Our strategies for rebuilding and replatforming include leveraging modern web stack tools like React, and Silverlight alternatives such as OpenSilver.

Ready to Modernize?

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