Showdown: Adobe vs. Microsoft

Adobe has started shipping their Creative Suite 3 including a new Adobe Media Player. Incidentally, Microsoft has also just launched their competitor, Microsoft Silverlight (previously known as Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere, or WPF/E).

The competition is direct; Adobe now has a web media player solution (video on demand, trailers, there are plenty of reasons to have a strong offering here) and Apollo, a crossplatform runtime that allows one to create web-apps; applications that work like regular appplications, but are/can be deeply integrated with the web (RIAs). In the other corner, we have Silverlight which claims to do exactly the same. In various commentary we’re told that whichever platform wins, both companies win. Even so, there’s nothing like a good cagematch and some healthy competition. Round one: Fight!

Responses to “Showdown: Adobe vs. Microsoft”

  1. Anders Rask says:

    It was not really clear from Microsoft’s website what the hell SilverLight is. Funny that I never heard about it before now. It took me a trip to Wikipedia to realize it is a head-on competitor to Flash.

    Yeah well, why not!? Competition in this area, like in all areas, is certainly going to benefit developers and end-users alike.

    Working professionally and extensively with both companies’ technologies as a developer I have to say that MS generally speaking is head and shoulders above Adobe. Maybe, just maybe, their offering will be better for developers.

    However, that being said, there’s no doubt that Flash continues to have the largest user-base, and when you’re developing for the web you’re developing for the largest possibly audience. Close to 100% of web-users have Flash installed and this made us choose Flash over Java though Java would have been technically much better.

    Would be interesting if all packages, Flash, Java, SilverLight, was 100% available. It would really come down to the technical strength of the individual offering.

  2. Joen says:

    Yeah well, why not!? Competition in this area, like in all areas, is certainly going to benefit developers and end-users alike.

    Most definitely. I agree.

    Working professionally and extensively with both companies? technologies as a developer I have to say that MS generally speaking is head and shoulders above Adobe. Maybe, just maybe, their offering will be better for developers.

    Are you talking about authoring apps (visual studio vs. I guess Dreamweaver, that sort of thing)? Or frameworks (.net vs. well, Flash)?

    Personally, I love both Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash, and would hail them kings in their respective areas. It’ll be very interesting now that Microsoft enters not only the framework / deployment of RIAs business, but also the authoring tool business. Competition here, would also be healthy. If nothing else then because Adobe bought Macromedia, so that old rivalry is down the toilet.

    As for the competition between the Silverlight RIA web framework, vs. Apollo, I honestly thought Silverlight wouldn’t be available on the Mac, which it seems to be. That — the lack of true crossplatform compatability — used to be my standing argument in favor of Apollo.

    Oh, and we’re forgetting that Mozilla Firefox 3 wants to compete with both offerings. (Link)

  3. I am glad to see you mentioned Firefox 3 in your comments Joen, otherwise I would have reminded you by now :). This is in interesting battle. I believe Firefox has a major advantage of being first-mover in this area. And by this I mean, they already have an increasing average market share of 12-13% of users that not only use their product for webbrowsing but also utilize add-ons. Hence, why download yet another application (Apollo) – in order to execute another application – when Im already using Firefox that will be able to do exactly that. Another solid argument for Firefox is their co-operation with Google!

    Does it show, im a Firefox fan ;)

  4. Joen says:

    they already have an increasing average market share of 12-13% of users that not only use their product for webbrowsing

    Well, those 12-13% aren’t really part of the userbase in this battle since those are the users that are using Firefox 1, 1.5 and 2. Sure they’ll probably be notified with an update notice when Firefox 3 arrives, but that doesn’t mean they’ll upgrade.

  5. True, currently the userbase is zero for all contestants. But I still believe the 12-13% are of importance! As I mentioned above, they are deciding to either install Apollo or the Firefox upgrade… If they are already using Firefox my money is on the upgrade :)

  6. Anders Rask says:

    But I still believe the 12-13% are of importance!

    Yeah sure … However it’s not either Apollo or Firefox 3. My guess is that close to 100% of the users who install FF3 will ALSO install Apollo. If they keep Apollo as part and parcel of Flash, it will reach the same user base as Flash has currently: Practically 100%. As long as FF3 is installed only on 15-20% it will remain a novelty for those who are providing applications for the wider public.

    Are you talking about authoring apps (visual studio vs. I guess Dreamweaver, that sort of thing)? Or frameworks (.net vs. well, Flash)?

    I’m sorta speaking about everything. I do think that DreamWeaver is quite good for what it is. For me though (and I am strongly biased by my looooong use of VS) Visual Studio is a better platform for developing web apps in ASP Classic/ASP.Net. As a runtime Flash is severely limited (personally I wish the world was running Java, or that MS did a .Net runtime for client web). Automating or making add-ins for Photoshop or Illustrator is a bloody nightmare! And Adobe themselves seem to be quite horrible software engineers (anyone right-click on the Adobe Reader taskbar item and choose close!?)

  7. Joen says:

    As a runtime Flash is severely limited (personally I wish the world was running Java, or that MS did a .Net runtime for client web)

    You’re right.

    In this case, however, you’re also soon to be wrong.

    Apollo, which is the runtime — the foundation for delivering Adobe internet applications — runs both Flash, HTML, JavaScript and XML. We’re talking real HTML too, Apollo includes the WebKit browser.

    What you were referring to, however, was probably the neat Flash applications you can create using the Flash authoring tool. Until now, these were compiled into .SWF files.

    Now you can also use Flex which… well, I don’t know a lot about this, but my impression is that it doesn’t actually compile the actionscript code, and is a complete coding environment. The result is an application that looks exactly like a Flash application, but with the — behold: right click / view source feature intact.

    Check this:

    http://dougmccune.com/flex/zomgzrss/

    Remember to right click / view source. You’ll see ActionScript file includes, XML and even CSS.

    Take this all with a grain of salt, but essentially Flex is what you’re looking for. And I’m pretty sure you could actually write a Flex application in Visual Studio if you wanted to.

  8. Anders Rask says:

    Have to say that Flex looks VERY interesting. Love to be proven wrong like this :D

    Surprisingly Flex has been there since 2004 (!) but no one told me (and apparently I didn’t look hard enough!). What’s sort-of new anyways, is that Flex 2 is just out and using an Eclipse IDE. Flex 2 was apparently released June 2006.

    Flex developers send me your CV’s :D

  9. It interesting how authors keep stating “… enable them to take the application /video outside the browser” and Niall talks about being able to read data from your address book and calendar (which is located on your desktop, NO no no nooo!). Personally I don’t have a need to go outside my browser. Why should I want to install and update applications when it can all happen automatically as the web-site/application updates :) From what I can gather Apollo is ready to be triggered from within Flash Player 9 (installed on approx. 83% desktops), but still besides the fact it is a cross-platform run-time, Apollo can’t do anything that isn’t already possible with a windows application using the IE shell. Maybe its true force is on the developer side of things?

    I see that Apollo is able to write to the file system, nice.

    http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/Apollo:Articles:Apollo_Local_File_System

    This is complex topic…

  10. Joen says:

    Love to be proven wrong like this :D

    Well, you’re not proven wrong yet, I’m just saying eventually you probably will be :)

    Surprisingly Flex has been there since 2004 (!)

    Yep, but — again I’m no expert — to my knowledge, what Flex is has changed in these past few years, and It’s only becoming interesting now. Previously I think Flex was both an authoring tool and a server technology (like PHP), which processed the Flex code on the server, serving some sort of SWF concoction. It’s only now with Apollo things are really starting to take off.

    Personally I don?t have a need to go outside my browser. Why should I want to install and update applications when it can all happen automatically as the web-site/application updates :)

    Interesting and good question.

    Honestly I’d say you don’t think you need it because you don’t yet know how sweet it could be.

    Before I used WordPress, I didn’t know what I was missing out on, and didn’t think I’d ever like it.

    Before I used HTML/CSS I used Flash, and didn’t think I’d ever enjoy creating HTML.

    I’d call it “emerging behaviour”. The success of these runtimes / frameworks will depend on the respective companys ability to predict what we will want to do with our web in the future.

    I remember you and I talking about the word “browser”, about Linux, about Google OS and so on. Being inside or outside your browser — what does it really matter? You’re using a form of applications that reside inside an ecosystem. If that ecosystem is your browser, or your OS… Well, personally I can see room for both. Oh, and remember the NC ?

    From what I can gather Apollo is ready to be triggered from within Flash Player 9

    Elaborate on “triggered”? As far as I know, the Apollo runtime will be distributed LIKE Flash Player, but separately.

    Maybe its true force is on the developer side of things?

    I think that’s the biggest selling point of Apollo over Silverlight — maybe also the only (now that Silverlight is crossplatform).

    I see that Apollo is able to write to the file system, nice.

    And create tray-icons, and create tray-notifications, and interact with other windows applications like copy/paste graphics. I read a while back that there will be a web version of Adobe Photoshop. Kinda like Fauxto I imagine. Apollo, anyone?

  11. I agree that these ecosystems will coexist simply because they serve different needs. However, I believe that eventually some degree of consolidation will happen – although syndication standards may influence this process. If Apollo want to compete with the distribution of information (using the DOM), they will have to integrate their solution with the ecosystem of the web, to start with, making information indexable by google, yahoo, etc. On a practical level I see one way of doing this, placing all apollo centric markup and text within a embed or object tag – they already tried this with Flash and it was a mess, right?

    I think Silverlight and Apollo will find success in areas outside the browser or as plug-in focused on execution of 3D, Games, and other forms of entertainment. But then again, this is already possible with Flash Player, Quicktime, etc. Maybe they will simply be able to do it better!?

    Elaborate on ?triggered?? As far as I know, the Apollo runtime will be distributed LIKE Flash Player, but separately.

    Kevin Lynch, [Adobe’s Senior Vice President and Chief Software Architect in the Platform Business Unit], said Flash 9 already shipped with Apollo update code, and is just waiting for the product to ship so it can update and include Apollo as an optional service for Flash Player users.

    Come to think of it, he doesn’t seem to be referring to the Player with concern to auto-update. Hmmm. Source link

  12. Oh, and remember the NC ?

    Yes, and I even think I have experienced a Network Computer at CBS Library, a solution from Sun, it was slow as a 3×86 :). I think there is general consensus we need local storage for effective apps.

  13. Joen says:

    On a practical level I see one way of doing this, placing all apollo centric markup and text within a embed or object tag – they already tried this with Flash and it was a mess, right?

    Great point. This seems to point further in the direction of the previously mentioned “view source” feature. Meaning: non-precompiled apollo apps should be search indexable, right?

  14. Joen says:

    Some more info on the view source features. Apparently it’s not quite as open as we should hope.

  15. kc says:

    Compare Silverlight to to Flex, not Flash peepl.

    It wouldnt be fair to compare SL to Flash as an authoring tool…Adobe blows MS out of the water here. SL is basically MS copying Flex – but its strengths lay in involving a massive Visual Studio user-base, which is something Adobe has never had (for development tools/languages). Its hard enough to find a qualified Actionscript developer.