Cool facts about Silverlight penetration / market share

Dear visitor: Please keep in mind that this post is originally from Vibor Cipan's personal blog, the name of which we eventually adopted as our company name together with its conveniently-named URL. We're keeping the posts on our official company blog for all the subscribers to Vibor's blog who have read and commented on his previous posts. Please be aware that this post represents Vibor's personal thinking few years ago and doesn't necessarily represent the opinions of the UX Passion as a company today. 

Recently there has been an interesting discussion about Silverlight penetration and market share. As always, people tend to connect Flash and Silverlight and use the market share as a single most important metrics – but here, I’m sharing some really cool, interesting and surprising (?) facts about Silverlight market share.

So, here are 8 cool facts about Silverlight penetration and market share for your enjoyment…

Did you know… about Silverlight?

Did you know more people have Silverlight installed than the US population own cars?

Did you know if you were to combine all of Apple’s product line sold to date, they still wouldn’t reach the number of Silverlight installs we have today?

Did you know it would take the US 2030 years to publish the same amount of new book tiles that Silverlight has installed?

Did you know it took Firefox 7 years to reach the total number of installs Silverlight has, and Silverlight did it in 9 months?

Did you know it took Flash 6 years to reach the total number of installs Silverlight has, and Silverlight did it in 9 months?

Did you know that in 4 million years from now, the same amount of Silverlight installs we have today will match the same amount of people who will die from choking on a ballpoint pen? (Okay, this one is a bit morbid, I guess)

It will take bloggers 1.4 years to generate the same amount of new blog posts to match Silverlight installs today.

If you combined MySpace + Facebook + Twitter subscribers you’d still be short on the total number of Silverlight installs that are in place today.

Silverlight penetration rate – updates

I’ve received several comments and e-mails stating that this particular post is appearing pretty high in search engine page results when people are looking for “silverlight penetration rate” and similar queries. Also, as you can see in comments, people were expecting to get more factual data, and not just “interesting and surprising facts about Silverlight market share”. You are encouraged to read those comments and post your own.

Having this in mind I am adding some more information regarding Silverlight penetration rate and market share.

1. There have been 300 million installs in about 4 months

2. Worldwide, over 1 in 4 computers (over 25%) has Silverlight installed.

3. Silverlight is not being distribued as an automatic update through Microsoft’s Update mechanisms – it is an optional update and it will never install unless you want it to be installed.

4. In some countries penetration rate is well over 50%, approaching about 60%. I don’t have more detailed data for specific countries.

5. I’ve posted an article about why Silverlight will do good even in this recession and crisis and some interesting case studies and quotes from independent analysts and consultancies related to Silverlight.

6. All data is from October 2008, momentum has continued and I will have some new data to publish in July right after Silverlight 3 will be released.

7. Take a look at this post giving your more information on new and improved features coming with Silverlight 3

Comments (29)

  1. These are cool facts that conveniently hide the statistics. They also paint a false pretext around how long some of these competing technologies have been around. It’s not impressive to cite Silverlight accomplishing in 9 months what Flash did in 6 years when you consider how long ago it was and how many computer users there were back then. It’s just spinning it, through and through.

    Give us the stats even if they’re low. If the product is good, decision makers will take the risk to adopt it even though the penetration is poor. Don’t hide behind spin okay?

    • Hi Rob and thanks for your comment. Stats about actual Silverlight penetration are (and have been) publicly available for quite some time – ScottGu and other guys have been talking about it at MIX ´09 and on other occasions – 300 million installs in about 4 months – over 1 in four computers worldwide has Silverlight installed. In some countries penetration approaches 60%… All that makes Silverlight of the fastest growing browser plug-ins in the history of the internet. Spin? You tell me :)

      I don’t think these FACTS are spin, and as I said – they are “cool” – meant to be funny, informative and simple – certainly not only or main argument that anyone serious would use for convincing the decision makers. And yes I do agree with you wholeheartedly when you say that decision makers will take the risk and adopt it – NBC did it, among many, many others.

      Take a look at this article and study linked in from there, if you are interested:

      Thanks for your comment. Rob!

  2. Rob,

    The facts above are simply there to give you a baseline of how big Silverlight has become since its birth. As when you throw 300million around its easy to just write it off as “how big is 300million” .. When you then compare it to products in the industry today that have the hype of “success” associated to them, you then start to realise that wow, 300million is actually very large.

    Citing Flash is actually quaite relevant, as a lot of the time folks associate Flash’s success based around its “need” – meaning we all needed it so we adopted it. In reality it took Flash a very long time and with the help of Microsoft to achieve it’s success. The point here is we’re making similiar patterns of growth but in a more compressed timeline and we’re also adding features to the runtime with an aggressive growth rate as well.

    We’re simply in good shape is more the point here.

    Try not to read too much into the conspiracy tea leaves on this one, there’s nothing underhanded here its simply just a baseline for folks to go “Oh wow, that’s actually healthy growth”.

    Scott Barnes
    Rich Platforms Product Manager

  3. Thanks guys. I agree with you Scott, simply saying that Silverlight has come a long way is true and a good theme for a post. But tell us the real info along with that. Stats like SL is installed in 1 in 4 computers is more valuable to me a decision maker than Silverlight accomplished in 9 months what Flash did in 6 years. When googling “Silverlight Penetration rates” this post is in the top 10 and doesn’t do much to tell me the real data.

    Starting my first SL project this month. I’m approaching this %100 agnostic to all platforms and look forward to seeing where it goes.

  4. Microsoft has been shipping Flash for years together with OS. And Silverlight is available through Windows Upadate but as an “optional” one – so no “forced installs” whatsoever.

    • I am sorry but I have deleted previous comment by my mistake while moderating them. I’d love to see the author posting it again and accepting my applogies for deleting his comment. My bad :(

    • Microsoft is not distributing Flash with Windows since Windows 98.

      • I could almost bet it was part of Windows XP!

      • when u install windows first windows xp animation is in flash
        i think its flash 6 or 5

        • I completely agree. The frtnarutisg thing is, I genuinely welcome competition on this front. As soon as Silverlight started being hyped, all sorts of cool features started coming out of the woodwork for Flash, Flex and Flash Player. I personally am just very skeptical that Microsoft is interested in honest competition As you mentioned though, this may be all for naught. If Microsoft rushes this, it won’t stand a chance against an embedded (pun intended) technology that has been around for years with a core development community.

    • Does anyone know if it is opt-in or opt-out?

  5. You deleted my comment! I am offended ;-)

    Seriously, no prob, accidents happen.

    While I don’t remember exactly what I wrote (and some of it is nulled due to some new facts I have seen since commenting) I do remember the gist of it, and have some new thoughts.

    While a comparison to Flash is an apt observation as to the strength of a plug-in, the particular “number-of-installs in x amount of time” comparison is inaccurate and misleading.

    Perhaps a better indicator of growth would be in comparing versions of SL to versions of FP. I believe (no real citation, just pulling from memory) that FP 9 grew to 95% penetration only a couple of months from release, and FP 10 hit around 75% penetration in 4 months.

    “Microsoft has been shipping Flash for years together with OS.” – Did this hit with Vista? I distinctly remember having to manually install Flash on XP 3 years ago when I built my computer.

    I do think its nice to see these statistics, but I would prefer they follow some actual numbers in the posting. (Like, “Silverlight is on 300 Million computers! That is more installs than cars owned by Americans!” etc.)

    As Rob said in his second comment, I was looking for some penetration stats, and this post came up first in the search and doesn’t tell me much, other than “Silverlight is growing fast”

    • Hey first of all thanks for commenting again and for your understanding.

      I think Flash was delivered together with Windows XP, and that was not case for Vista and later releases. As for statistics – since this post is going so well on search engines I will update the post and put in some numbers that we have discussed here.

      I just want to make clear that personally I don’t have anything against Flash / Flex / Air or any other technology. As a matter of fact – I do consider myself to be a fan of Adobe and their products, and most importantly I think that Flash and Silverlight are here to stay each targeting specific needs and offering specific possibilities. But still, the idea behind this post was to share some interesting, cool facts and not just sole numbers regarding Silverlight’s adoption.

      Thank you all guys for bringing it to my attention that this post appears so high in Google and yes – you do deserve bit more solid and factual information on this one. Therefore, as I have said, I will update the post with those information a bit later.


  6. Rob Toole, you really are.

    “Starting my first SL project this month. I’m approaching this %100 agnostic to all platforms and look forward to seeing where it goes.”

    If you really were %100 agnostic to all platforms then you would be developing in line with W3C technologies.

    • Yeah, standards are lame and boring. Silverlight is compiled and rulz! No one can view source on my ass-like code. Not many sites seem to use it, but I think one day HTML and CSS and Javascript will just go away. I hate the open web because anyone can sit down and learn and use it. Silverlight requires me to have MS tools/platform to develop, which makes me feel confident in the fact i’ll be intelesensing my way into high level API heaven, never needing to understand a programming language or paradigm.

    • You’ve got to be kidding!

      Why would a platform-agnostic person choose the most primitive of all tools (plain HTML and JavaScript)?

      I think what Rob Toole was saying is that he doesn’t care about vendors and platforms, but rather what actually gets a high quality web site built most efficiently.

      This would explain why he chose Silverlight.

  7. Let’s do simple math for fun.
    it took 6 years for Flash to reach 90%
    it will take about 5 more years for Silverlight to reach 90% (average adoption rate worldwide about 1%/month), so total for Silverlight will be about 8 years

  8. Can you cite your references?

  9. This is what everyone is probably looking for (current stats of Flash and Silverlight based on Country, Operating System, and Browser):

    • Thanks dough for some sense.

      Most of the original post is classic spin, very misleading. I’m sure Mark Twain would have something to say about those “statistics”.

      Seems to me that there is a degree of self-, or commercial-interest going on here (why would you spend the time to come up with these things?) and it’s a shame that none has been declared.

      • Hi McDuck,
        Thanks for your comment. Stats here have been published by an now ex-Microsoftie guy – Scott (he commented on this article so you can take a look at that as well).

        As for self- or commercial interest going on here – I’m a BIG FAN of Silverlight, I use it in my daily work working with clients of all kinds and I do use this blog space to talk more about it. But first and foremost – as I’ve mentioned number of times earlier in this article and the comments – purpose of this was just to serve as cool and fun overview of the situation on the market. Quite cool to see how many people have decided to comment and share their opinion about this article. I just LOVE IT!

  10. Every statistic shown here is misleading in one way or another. You can’t compare install rates from six years ago to today, or number of worldwide installs to the number of Americans with cars. How does that matter at all?

  11. A little offtopic reply, Im using the new google chrome browser, but it looks like your website is not displaying correctly… Just to let you know. Thanks.

    • Hi and thanks for your comment – this site has just been moved to new host so we are still fixing some issues. Thanks for letting me know!

  12. Cmon be real, I’m a riaa developer (jboss Seam + jbpm + quartz + hibernate + eclipse-pluginbased-designer) in a >1000 employees healthcare IT company, I don’t know a single person here in Italy having this silverlight installed. We use flamingo paperivsion3d on our flex interfaces with success, silverlight may be good but we will never know becaue no one is really interested. It just came in too late.
    Just like us-only fancy thingies like twitter, facebook came first and there’s no second place :)
    Like “windows” wins forever anyway because it’s the first usable OS, just simply drop away your silverlight project and try doing something different and better, like pushing on who knows, html5? some new cool standards.

  13. You guys should follow this to see how SL’s doing. Its marketshare grows 2% average every month without the help from Windows Update much.

    Now it reaches to more than 52% computers worldwide, so I guess it’s not bad at all to start developing your apps using SL. Windows phone 7 will boost it to a new level soon.

  14. cool stuff – cool facts, though the odds are in Microsoft favors, we should not in anyway diminish their achievement. If Microsoft works more on seo part of silverlight, web developers would love it more.

    Thanks for your blend of humor and fun into this sort of stuff.
    (i’d read your book you know – hurry up and get published.)
    (hey don’t mail me.)

  15. this is bull crap


  1. Pingback: GoldenTaoDotNet

  2. Pingback: David Golden

  3. Pingback: GoldenTaoDotNet

  4. Pingback: GoldenTaoDotNet

  5. Pingback: David Golden

  6. Pingback: GoldenTaoDotNet

  7. Pingback: David Golden

  8. Pingback: Vibor Cipan

  9. Pingback: Vibor Cipan

  10. Pingback: Vibor Cipan

  11. Pingback: Vibor Cipan

  12. Pingback: Mike Chaliy

  13. Pingback: Mike Chaliy

  14. Pingback: Mike Chaliy

  15. Pingback: Mike Chaliy

  16. Pingback: Silverlight 3 released, Blend 3 + SketchFlow available as release candidates

  17. Pingback: Bas Schutte

  18. Pingback: Bas Schutte

  19. Pingback: Bas Schutte

  20. Pingback: Bas Schutte

  21. Pingback: RIA jobs market trends: Silverlight vs Flex vs JavaFX

  22. Pingback: Art Haddad

  23. Pingback: Michel Araújo

  24. Pingback: Art Haddad

  25. Pingback: Art Haddad

  26. Pingback: Art Haddad

  27. Pingback: Michel Araújo

  28. Pingback: Michel Araújo

  29. Pingback: Michel Araújo

  30. Pingback: Rob Quigley

  31. Pingback: Rob Quigley

  32. Pingback: Rob Quigley

  33. Pingback: Rob Quigley

  34. Pingback: Sascha Wolter

  35. Pingback: silverfighter

  36. Pingback: Sascha Wolter

  37. Pingback: silverfighter

  38. Pingback: Sascha Wolter

  39. Pingback: Sascha Wolter

  40. Pingback: silverfighter

  41. Pingback: Avivo

  42. Pingback: John Zabroski

  43. Pingback: ryantomlinson

  44. Pingback: Chris Barber

  45. Pingback: Silverlight exceeds 50% penetration « Coding Out Loud