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With Adobe and Microsoft pouring millions into their next generation RIA platforms, which will dominate? Flex is obviously the current leader having been around for years before Silverlight was released, but Microsoft seems determined to make up ground with large investments in the platform and tools (the Expression suite.)

I am a fan of Flex, but I certainly prefer C# to ActionScript for coding. I prefer Adobe's design tools, but Expression Design and Expression Blend are impressive for v1 releases. I really like the way they integrate with VisualStudio 2008. I can create UIs using a designer friendly tool and then code behind them with a developer friendly tool. Flex Builder gives you a similar development scenario but the designer is not nearly as powerful as Expression.

Tags: Adobe, Flex, Microsoft, RIA, Silverlight

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Microsoft’s approach has always been to cause as much confusion and fragmentation in the marketplace as they can, especially when they want to get into an existing product or service space held by other software giants. They did this during the “browser wars.” Who won that race? Of course, they tried this in some other areas, but didn’t do so well. I believe their real threat is with their 3D graphics engine in WPF. There’s a claim on their Web site that with “automatic updates” turned on, 80 million PC’s will be equipped with WPF (and the 3D engine) within a very short period. That’s the space they really want to dominate. (See WEB3D as an alternative.)
> They did this during the “browser wars.” Who won that race?

True, but one of the few companies that has routinely beat Microsoft is Adobe. Microsoft tried to get into desktop publishing and was thumped by Adobe on every front. Adobe has a monopoly in this space. Nearly all digital illustrators use Illustrator, photographers and digital painters all use Photoshop, most web designers use Dreamweaver, etc.

In terms of players the latest penetration numbers are over 99% of desktops and an increasing number of mobile devices.

> I believe their real threat is with their 3D graphics engine in WPF.

Agreed. The other advantages are superior developer tools and the enormous .NET developer base.
At this point, Silverlight is seeing almost no traction in usage. Flash now supports H.264, and that's where the world is going.

Silverlight had real potential, but frankly, the video isn't as good as H.264, and the files are HUGE!

The word on the street is that MS is currently redoing Microsoft.com in silverlight, to try and drive Silverlight acceptance. If it doesn't work, silverlight will fade away.
I expect silverlight 1.2 will support H.264. I think Silverlight will gain a lot of traction this year. Microsoft is throwing its full weight behind it.

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