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Difference Between WPF and Silverlight

silverlightWPF vs. Silverlight

The Windows Presentation Foundation, or WPF, is a graphical subsystem that was added as a part of the .NET Framework. It allows developers to easily develop interfaces for their Windows applications. Microsoft Silverlight is another piece of software from Microsoft that offers the same capabilities, and was intended to compete with Adobe Flash, and others that are similar. It is simply a subset of the already existing WPF. For a period of time, Silverlight was called WPF/E, with the ‘E’ standing for ‘everywhere’.

The use of WPF is limited to applications that are meant to run on the Windows operating system. You cannot build an application that is able to run on any other operating system, and even for older versions of Windows, like 95 and 98. Silverlight applications can be used on any operating system, just as long as the operating system’s host is a Windows operating system. This means that using Silverlight is much better in cases where your users are far away, and using varied operating systems.

As Silverlight was intended to be used online, certain limitations were imposed, in order to maintain its function, regardless of the operating system, and to avoid malicious programs that can damage the computer of the person browsing the site. Silverlight cannot access the resources of the local machine. Since WPF is used in applications that are meant for local use, it is aware of the operating system on which it runs, and can take advantage of that to improve its performance, and use the features that are not available in Silverlight.

3D imaging is one of the features that Silverlight is lacking. This is necessary if you want to create 3D views, and environments just like what you see in most of the newer games. WPF can fully render 3D images, since it can directly access Direct3D. Later versions of Silverlight, added 3D support, although this was not full support. It is now capable of perspective 3D.


1. Silverlight is simply a subset of WPF.

2. Silverlight is meant to be used online, while WPF is for local use.

3. You can use Silverlight applications regardless of the operating system you use, while WPF applications are restricted to later versions of the Windows operating system.

4. Silverlight lacks access to local resources, while WPF can utilize local resources.

5. Silverlight only has perspective 3D support, while WPF is capable of full 3D images.

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  1. Silverlight cannot access the resources of the local machine

    Please explain ……………………………

    • you can consider that like asp.net application cannot access the local machine resources and windows application has the fully support the local machine. In the same way Silverlight and WPF do.

  2. It looks like SL5 (still in beta) permits access to local resources.

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