When to Use Which Microsoft Presentation Technology

Yesterday I was visiting an IT department of a media company that was developing internal applications for their internal network users.  They asked a great question about when to use which presentation technologies, now that Microsoft has WPF, WPF XBAP, Silverlight, and ASP.Net+AJAX.  Here is my comparison matrix:

WPF WPF XBAP Silverlight ASP.Net + AJAX
Client Windows XP SP2 (With .Net 3.0) & Vista Internet Explorer + Windows XP SP2 (with .Net 3.0) & Vista FireFox, Mac Safari, Internet Explorer Any Web Browser
Deployment Downloadable Installer or ClickOnce Runs in Internet Explorer secure sandbox One-time install of Silverlight plug-in Web Page
When to use Programs that need access to Windows desktop files. Intranet applications for Windows-oriented companies. Rich Internet Applications for public-facing web sites General-purpose public-facing web sites

Are there any other factors that should be in this matrix?

P.S. Because the media company was developing these applications for internal customers who ran Windows XP, I recommended that they use the WPF XBAP presentation architecture because it provided the rich interaction experience possible with WPF and it was easily deployable and accessible through the Browser.


  • Windows Vista comes with .Net 3.0.  For Windows XP SP2, it is a 50MB one-time download (90MB for 64-bit Windows)
  • WPF is the successor to Visual Basic 6, MFC, and Windows Form.  If you need to target your application for Windows 2000 as well as XP and Vista, then I suggest using Windows Forms 2.0.

Comments (9)

  1. Andy Mackie says:

    Winforms 2.0 – is there still a place for that ? Is Winforms more suited to line-of-business apps (LOB) than WPF, or should all windows apps be using WPF these days ?

  2. Synergist says:

    Back in July, I created a simple grid of when to use which Microsoft presentation technology. I did this

  3. Back in July, I created a simple grid of when to use which Microsoft presentation technology. I did this

  4. Michael Sync says:

    >>FireFox, Mac Safari, Internet Explorer

    Can we install Silverlight plugin on Windows 2000 and "below"?

  5. Synergist says:


    You can install Silverlight 2 on Windows 2000 but not previous versions.  

  6. GPS Tracking says:

    This is true that there are so many applications for the <a href="docs.google.com/…/view. you can use silverlight 2 on window 2000 for the presentation.

  7. SanVar says:


    I have to create a dll which prompts a window with a button, that takes client desktop screenshot on click, and can be uploaded to the main server directory.

    Its a public facing web app. What would you suggest to go for?

    I was hoping to go Silverlight way, but would not want the user to install anything from his side.

    Any suggestion would be great


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