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. 🙂
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 😉
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> 😀
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: