Silverlight Runtime is a browser plug-in to support Silverlight enabled applications. If the Silverlight runtime is not installed, browsers will not be able to run Silverlight elements in the browser. You can set up your Silverlight tags in such a way that your browser will automatically prompt the user to download and install the Silverlight plug-in when your application is launched in the browser.
Installing the run time is a onetime operation on the client. Once installed, it will be automatically launched when any Silverlight application is loaded in the browser.
Note: Silverlight plug-in and the runtime, both are the same; however, I am giving two definitions here.