When Macromedia meets Microsoft

First of all I want to make it clear, I am a huge fan of Flash, to an obsessive level, there’s no chance of me switching to anything else anytime soon and this is not about slagging off Flash. πŸ™‚

Ok, with that done…

Over the past year and a half…

First of all I want to make it clear, I am a huge fan of Flash, to an obsessive level, there’s no chance of me switching to anything else anytime soon and this is not about slagging off Flash. πŸ™‚

Ok, with that done…

Over the past year and a half there’s been a lot of talk of Avalon, and Sparkle from MS, and how it might threaten Flash in the RIA market. Most of the discussions I have seen have ended with a Flash fan saying “MS isn’t aiming at the web…it’s not a browser plug-in…Flash will be fine”. Now imagine we are 2 years down the line.

Somehow this statement fails to make a realisation. MS don’t NEED to compete “on the web”, they don’t need to develop a rival browser plug-in or Central like platform. They will HAVE the platform and it won’t require an iota of effort on the part of the user. The fact that Avalon and Sparkle are a part of Longhorn means that they don’t need people to go to a webpage through a browser to use a RIA, these apps can be spread through tiny email attachments or quick to download files from links on web pages. This has been demonstrated in various movies on the MS site for some time. The keyword is SEAMLESS and MS’s “click once technology” embodies this.

These apps will of course use the internet to communicate, but it’s more of a seamless experience for the “always on” generation that becomes ever apparent, not to mention intrinsically having the “offline” capabilities of Central.

The shift from tools to content is enormous, I see the future of RIA’s being more about what they CAN do than what technology it uses (and “do I have it?”), however obvious that may sound, it’s hard not to get caught up in what technology is being used, for us geeks πŸ˜‰

Odds are Internet Explorer won’t even require the user to download and save the application file to run it, it will just run in the Window when they click a link, with the Window seamlessly “turning into” the app from the browser.

No need for a plug-in, and with the ability to harness the entire power of the OS, FileSystem, Networking, 3D accelerator and all, this is seriously limitless. Wait a second, isn’t Avalon hitting Windows XP also?

Remembering that around 95% of desktops run Windows, you might hear Microsoftians say “who cares about the other 5%?”, seriously, some people really don’t, and for those who might, Mono provides .NET on Mac/Linux so who’s to say there won’t be a new equivelent for the Longhorn featurettes in the near future, let’s face it anyone running Linux will not lack the ability to install such platform, as it is they have to a year for the latest Flash plug-in, only to have it run at 1/3 less speed. Mac and “easy” distro’s of Linux (such as Knoppix) are the only worry here.

This isn’t a cry to MM because to be honest, there’s not much they can do, other than make the FlashPlayer stronger, faster and provide some brute graphical power (*roar*)… <edit> Seems Maelstrom does just this </edit> πŸ˜€

Central is a massive step forward, if it weren’t for the fact a user must choose to download Central, trust its certificates in a post SP2 era, and then install the app they wanted after Central installs.

Player size always seems to be an issue, but here’s a little shocker…Most Flash sites I now visit easily exceed the total Flash player download size over the duration, with streaming video, pictures and sound. Is it through fear of Director and Flash inhabiting the same shelf space? I think not, but still…

Well, just some thoughts, ready and willing for some good pro Flash arguments from fellow Flash developers (I really DO want MM to succeed, and I have faith) MM still rule the web, lets hope the web doesn’t melt too far into to the desktop for it to become irrelevant to the mass of home users.

For some more emphasis on “seamless” working, please watch the Higher Education video at:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/Longhorn/productinfo/conceptvid/default.aspx

8 thoughts on “When Macromedia meets Microsoft”

  1. Where do you get the “95% of desktops use windows” stat? I’m sure it’s a majority, but I don’t think Mac is hurting that bad. Until it is seamless across all platforms, to at least the degree Flash is, it’s not seamless.

  2. You know, I was very close to not making this post at all. It IS too oppinionated and inaccurate (especially the 95% which should actually be around 92% averaging various online research stats such as the W3C’s).

    Really, I just hope that anyone reading this takes it in the manner it was written, which was a not too serious, frustrated venting, with a hint of worry for ones own future in the world of Flash.

    Hope it didn’t go down too badly! πŸ˜‰

  3. hmm… did some checking around myself, and I guess the 95 isn’t that far off. I’m shocked. I guess I work with too many designer types. πŸ™‚ I’m a pc guy myself, but at my company, I feel almost like a minority.

  4. It will take ages before MS can develop something even close to Flash. The power of Flash lies in the hands of the users who are the key contributors towards improving Flash all through these days. Microsoft was never so user friendly as MM is. And the stat of 95% is something which I dont really beleive can be true. But one thing I would agree is the point about RIA’s , Flash is not still that strong in that area and that would be a cakewalk for MS.

  5. Being oppinionated is what makes this post interesting and challenging. As for innacuracy.. 95 to 92 IS irrelevant..
    I share your feelings for Flash, especially for AS, and I’m glad you brought this up, nice move.

    I have one single thought on this..
    I think brendan put it short, i’ll try to elaborate a bit.
    You feel that MM can’t do much about this, maybe you are right, for now..
    But: Could it be a sign that this is the time for MM to start thinking of other platforms like the browser itself, or in the longer run.. the OS? If MM ever had the credibility to put a browser on the table, it’s now.

    I’ve never had any contact with anyone at MM, but this thought has surely crossed some minds in their offices.
    Have anything on that anyone?

  6. Fred thanks for the words, I thought about what Brendan said too. While I think it is wholey impractical for MM to release a browser, I was thinking about what might happen if they changed the deployment of the Flash Player.

    Right now we have so many versions of the Flash Player, in plug-in form, stand-alone, Central, in mobile phones, PDA’s. What if the main form of distribution on the Internet was not plug-in form, but a combination of stand-alone and plug-in (so that SWF’s can be run directly in the player like Flash developers have access to, without needing creating a standalone projector .exe/.hqx for each project)

    But for this to work, the standalone player would need to provide (through FS2 commands, and as standard) a series of enhancements that are offered by 3rd party extensions such as mProjector, or simply those included with Central. Companies like MDM could still hold their ground through sheer amount of extra features, directX rendering and ODBC connectivity, but at least the Flash Player would provide that core functionality that it is missing on the Desktop. Who knows!

  7. I wouldn’t say it’s impractical for them to release a browser.

    Sure it takes work, time and commitment, but enhancing the Player seems more and more like lost time. Eventually something else will come up to fight Flash at it’s level and Microsoft will still have that edge on anyone.

    I think we (geeks and/or designers) should set the bar high enough to make MM think of a full browser.
    They have enough credibility and it would make sense to try.

    It’s up to us.
    I’m mailing MM now! πŸ™‚

    Cheers

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