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No - the Format War is Just Beginning

HD DVD vs. Blu-Ray was yesterday's news. Today the bigger battle may actually be Adobe's Air vs. Microsoft's Silverlight

By Scott Gentry | February 25, 2008

Let's face it, we all saw the Blu-Ray battle won some time ago. Perhaps a far more interesting battle is heating up between rivals Microsoft and Adobe on delivering content via a graphical open run-time platform or via a web browser.

Adobe has tremendous distribution in Flash technology as it's nearly everywhere. Microsoft's Silverlight leverages the graphical ability of their browser. Adobe's Air, is a distributable runtime platform that's no longer in beta as of this morning. You can download it here for Windows and Mac.


While perusing the net this evening I ran across something interesting on Tim Sneath's blog. Never been there before but was searching for Silverlight and MTV. Actually trying to track down a rumor that Microsoft is offering Silverlight around and folks - prominent folks like MTV, are passing in favor of Flash. So as I read his blog post about Silverlight and MTV I then clicked over to his example, which is Jackass 2.5 the movie supposedly being hosted by Limelight Networks and Microsoft. Well, interestingly enough, it's Flash. Hmmmm. Looks like I have more digging to do.

We'll be watching this very closely as you can imagine not only here, but also in our soon to launch WebDevCoalition. For more info, check out

As a disclaimer - Adobe is paid advertiser of this site, and Microsoft isn't...yet. (maybe never now)
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Eldon Stevens: | February, 27, 2008

Unlike the HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray battle, where there can be only one, Flash and Air and Silverlight are all going to co-exist on the Web for a long, long time.

It is interesting to look at how they are different, and talk about which niche they each will end up inhabiting.

For the most part, consumers won’t care. I only mildly care whether the video is Flash or Quicktime or whatever (as long as it’s not RealPlayer); the point is to get the job done.  I suspect that Air and Silverlight will be the same, with most Internet users installing both frameworks.  Air is 11.2Mb, and Silverlight is going to be about 4Mb.  So if the user wants the content, they’ll install.

Really, this is all about the developer. 

Previously, if a software developer wanted a Rich Internet Application, no two ways about it, it was a royal pain in the . . . neck.  Pain to code, pain to test, and pain to maintain. Serious pain to maintain. All pain, whether you used Flash or AJAX or (insert your favorite framework here) whatever.

Silverlight is exciting because it removes that pain.  A developer can code in their native language (like C#) and also have the coolness of a vector environment in the browser.  But more importantly, the project can be maintained like a real software application in the enterprise.

So you are going to see Silverlight applications in the enterprise, on corporate intranets, where no developer in their right mind would put a Flash app.  You might even see Air applications in the enterprise, too, mostly in non-Microsoft shops.

I think Flash will stick around, because it’s great for lightweight designs.  If you have a small company and don’t have a catalog of 400,000 products to spin through, then Flash is great for image, and slickness, and that black-turtleneck type of site.  Plus, it’s fast and does great video.

I’m just glad about Silverlight, because Flash was never really made for industrial strength scalable apps (although it does have the coolness) and HTML based applications have always, always been a pain. When Silverlight 2.0 ships with user controls and network protocols and dynamic languages, it’s going to absolutely rock. After 13 or so years of the Web, the golden age of Rich Internet Apps is about to arrive.

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