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Other threats like Sun's JavaFX may shake up the market as well


Microsoft's Director of Developer Platform Marketing, Brian Goldfarb, and Adobe's Director of Technology Strategy, Anup Murarka, recently participated in an interview together about their competing rich web formats and what the future holds. Currently, Microsoft's Silverlight and Adobe's Flash both are well entrenched, with a legion of developers sitting on each side of the fence.  However, Microsoft and Adobe are both warily eyeing HTML5, an open standard that could unravel support for their proprietary platforms.  

  In terms of PC user base, Microsoft's latest figures show it to have 45 percent market penetration for Silverlight worldwide and 60 percent in Europe and Asia.  Meanwhile Adobe, benefiting from 10-plus years on the market, is in 98 percent of computers worldwide.  Reportedly, it was able to bump 95 percent of users worldwide to Flash 10 within a year of its release.

Adobe has a large developer base, but it isn't releasing exact figures.  Microsoft openly claims a developer base of 500,000 developers.  Its recent high profile content victories have included using Silverlight for coverage of the Winter Olympics, the upcoming March Madness (college basketball's annual championship tournament), Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and the Netflix Watch Instantly service.  Adobe, meanwhile, continues to control the rich content backend for some of the web's biggest sites like YouTube and Hulu.

Microsoft is trying to make development easier for artistic types with its Expression creative development environment.  Microsoft enjoys the advantage that its .NET environment is familiar to many developers, but its lack of availability on Macs turns off some artistic types.  Adobe's tools for making Flash applications (Flex, Flash Builder, and enterprise applications using Eclipse) are less standard, but its new Catalyst product allows Mac developers and artists to get in on the action.

Ultimately, both Microsoft and Adobe were left scrambling by the introduction of HTML5, championed, among others, by Google.  HTML5 could scrap the need for proprietary standards entirely, but both Adobe and Microsoft are looking to sneak their rich media into certain HTML5 implementations.  They are also working to make their content more searchable, a key advantage that HTML5 currently enjoys.
The pair also have to worry about scrapping in the mobile sector, a key emerging market.  Microsoft's Silverlight will be a key part of Windows Mobile 7.  Meanwhile, Adobe has inserted Flash into 19 of the 20 mobile phone OEMs.  The only OEM still left out of the party is Apple, who makes the very popular iPhone.  Apple has refused to let interpreted code (Java, PHP, PERL, etc) run on the iPhone, barring the possibility of Flash.  Apple has also gone as far as to personally attack the reliability and necessity for Flash.

A key third player is Sun's JavaFX, which was first released in December 2008 and since has been drawing substantial interest in the developer community.


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Flash isn't perfect...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 10:03:00 AM , Rating: 5
But I rather have it installed than have to install 4 different player formats just for web content.

Competition is great, but so are standards.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By ElementZero on 3/8/2010 10:09:03 AM , Rating: 5
Yeah - and it's so great that I can use it on my 64-bit no wait...on my Wii...err no...on my iPhone...

err...ugh, I give up

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 10:18:29 AM , Rating: 2
Why are you using 64bit Firefox ? It's not even released, and besides that, there is NO GAIN in 64bit browsing over 32bit.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Blight AC on 3/8/2010 10:43:30 AM , Rating: 5
The benefit to having a 64-Bit browser is that we move closer to full 64-bit support and don't have to hang in the current hybrid environment. Firefox 64-bit has been available for years on Linux. However, lack of Flash support holds back public release for the Firefox team to bringing the 64 bit version to Windows (and no doubt the support tickets/backlash that will cause for Mozilla).

Also, HTML 5 support is built into browsers. I know Firefox had it for version 3.5 (maybe 3.0), and I'm not sure about other browsers. However, HTML 5 would be preferable for me because it's support will be baked in, and not some bloatware, extra software including Adobe crap.

That means that browsers like Chrome, that keep each tab in it's own separate VM, won't still crash the entire browser because rich content normally displayed by flash hosed up.

Finally, since Adobe Flash is more and more becoming a target of malware, I'd be very happy to finally be able to remove it without gimping my internet.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By neurosisxeno on 3/8/2010 10:48:54 AM , Rating: 2
The benefit to having a 64-Bit browser is that we move closer to full 64-bit support and don't have to hang in the current hybrid environment.

64-bit has been around for ages and yet we are still stuck with 32-bit applications and the x86\x64 releases of Windows year in and year out. I wouldn't hold your breath on the whole "conversion" to 64-bit. The only hope is that it will reach a point where RAM is so cheap and abundant that manufacturers are forced to put it on systems. That kind of thing is a lot closer than most people realize (almost all Laptops\PC's at retail stores are sitting at 2-6GB of RAM already). Hopefully within the next few years the tech world will finally bid 32-bit farewell (long overdue).

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By afkrotch on 3/8/2010 7:12:31 PM , Rating: 2
I have 4 GB and really, I don't see much need for more (at least for me). For more regular users, they probably don't need more than 2 GB.

I really haven't seen much need to move to 64 bit. My system is more than capable of doing 64 bit. Lack of software, lack of drivers, lack of need, pretty much keeps me away from it.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 9:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
"Lack of software, lack of drivers, lack of need, pretty much keeps me away from it."

The lack of drivers thing is pretty much a nonissue, unless you have some really old hardware to support.

Don't conflate moving to a 64 bit O/S with moving to a 64 bit application . There's a difference. A 64 bit O/S still gives you advantages with 32 bit programs...each program gets a full 4GB of memory space, for one, rather than having to share.

I'm typing this on 64bit Win7...but nearly all the apps I use are 32 bit.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By sLaYDeMOn on 3/8/2010 11:05:46 PM , Rating: 4
How can you have 4GB and not be using 64bit??? unless you're using linux...

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By porkpie on 3/8/2010 7:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
"The only hope is that it will reach a point where RAM is so cheap and abundant that manufacturers are forced to put it on systems."

You people have things totally backwards. In the real world of business and profits, you don't adopt something like 64 bit technology because its "cool". You do so if and when it gives you real benefits.

64 bit OS's are going to have backwards compatibility to 32 bit for at least the next 20 years. The idea that, by using 64-bit Firefox, you're somehow helping to evolve us closer to 64 bit-topia is laughable.

Applications will migrate to 64 bit when there's a real reason for them to do so. Some apps may *never* migrate....that's certainly nothing for them or us to worry about. If you don't need the extra memory, why make your binary 10% larger just so you can say you're one the cool kids?

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 11:18:40 AM , Rating: 3
64bit Firefox will not load faster, run smoother, or render pages faster than 32bit. 64bit is great, I have 64bit Windows7 Pro. But when it comes to browsers, 64bit just really doesn't matter.

That means that browsers like Chrome, that keep each tab in it's own separate VM, won't still crash the entire browser because rich content normally displayed by flash hosed up.

That actually happens to you ? Umm...oookay. I have never seen Chrome crash no matter how many tabs I have up.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Breathless on 3/8/2010 11:55:53 AM , Rating: 5
All this being said, there is NO GOOD EXCUSE for adobe to have not released 64 bit flash - NO EXCUSE. It likely wouldn't take a bagillion man hours for them to make it work.... or at least release a beta...

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 12:09:59 PM , Rating: 1
Sure but that's neither here nor there.

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By Ammohunt on 3/8/2010 2:56:14 PM , Rating: 1
Thats why i run 16-bit Netscape Navigator! I will never understand why we ever advanced out of the stoneage! stone tools could do everything modern steel tools could do!

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By The0ne on 3/8/2010 3:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
I don't either,

But it sure does feel special to be using something "new"

*roll eyes*

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By bug77 on 3/8/2010 11:18:52 AM , Rating: 2
So, now the user is the problem, not the computer that won't do what you want it to do?

RE: Flash isn't perfect...
By OhioBetty on 3/16/2010 9:34:54 AM , Rating: 2
I want my computer to make perfectly buttered and raspberry-jammed toast and to find me a winning lottery ticket.

And it won't. And that's the computer's fault. Right?

Headline's a little misleading
By nafhan on 3/8/2010 10:29:30 AM , Rating: 3
Shouldn't it be something more along the lines of: "Flash dominates while Silverlight and HTML5 vie for a position." Nearly every internet connected computer can do Flash. Not so much for Silverlight, HTML5 or others.

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By neurosisxeno on 3/8/2010 10:50:25 AM , Rating: 2
98% of internet connected computers have Flash installed, so "nearly every" is pretty accurate.

By tedrodai on 3/8/2010 4:34:16 PM , Rating: 3
Be careful about spreading statistics...around 99% that people present to you are pulled out of someone's ass. This is nearly 100% true, though actual scientific studies can blur the lines sometimes. Not that I'm suggesting know...but it's the principle of the thing. 2nd hand statistics are no cleaner than the originals.

I'm not arguing against your point though--flash definitely runs rampant, and has crashed on all of the computers I've owned over the years. Just 2 weeks ago, I finally ran into a site I had to use for some reason or another and the page wouldn't load until I installed flash on my fairly recent install of Win here it goes again.

just some light-hearted observations

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By 67STANG on 3/8/2010 10:55:09 AM , Rating: 3
This is just silly. Silverlight, while able to play video, is intended for a completely different purpose than HTML5/Flash.

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By nafhan on 3/8/2010 11:55:37 AM , Rating: 2
Really? What purpose is that? I think the wiki article sums it up nicely:
Microsoft Silverlight is a web application framework that provides functionalities similar to those in Adobe Flash, integrating multimedia, graphics, animations and interactivity into a single runtime environment.
My experience is that it seems a little more powerful and responsive than Flash, but - other than MS's DRM - I don't think I've seen it used for anything that couldn't be done with Flash or even HTLM5.

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By Torment on 3/8/2010 1:59:18 PM , Rating: 3
Silverlight uses a subset of the .Net framework, meaning it does a lot more than can be done with Html5. As I'm not as familiar with Flash, I can't speak to its current capabilities. I would, though, expect silverlight to be faster. Also, silverlight is (or, at least, was) fully sandboxed, making it far more secure than flash. In any case, silverlight is very much a big step in the right direction. All web pages should be compiled to an intermediate language. No more using 1990's era text markup for websites, please. No more javascript nightmares. It is absolutely ridiculous for a modern computer to *ever* be bogged down by a website (and Flash is just as much a culprit as the mountain of bubblegum and tacky-tape that is html)

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By B3an on 3/9/2010 1:34:01 AM , Rating: 2
I've been deveoping sites/games/music/video players with Flash for about 9 years now. And i have used Silverlight a little.

I would say Silverlight is slightly more powerful but it's pretty close. Both formats can do WAY more than HTML5 ever could though, which is why i always laugh when poeople say that HTML5 will kill either format. And with both formats they are regugarly updated with new versions and features around each year so will just get further ahead of HTML5 in no time.

For speed Flash and SL seem pretty equal - if you're using ActionScript 3.0 for the Flash code, as it's a lot faster, but so many Flash Dev's still use 2.0 as it's easier to learn, and people just dont optimise well for performance (it's often the developers fault if Flash is using high CPU). Flash also now has video GPU acceleration with the 10.1 BETA flash player, which is pretty much the only advantage HTML5 had over Flash for video. Even before that though Flash could still do many more things with video regarding creativity and the video player itself.

It's not just about video though, too many people on here relate Flash and Silverlight to video, and forget the literally countless amount of games and sites that are made with both (well with Flash anyway).

I just wish apple would allow Adobe to put Flash on there iShite devices... but then why purchase from the app store when flash could pretty much do 99% of what the apps do for free.

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By borowki2 on 3/9/2010 2:39:49 PM , Rating: 2
I concur. Sometimes I wonder if Jason Micks has talked to a Flash developer. This storyline about HTML5 being a challenge to Flash is simply absurd. Lately, for instance, I've been working on a audio player that allows the user to dynamically vary the speed of playback without pitch shift. It's something you wouldn't dream of doing with HTML. If anything, I think Flash is making headway into the areas traditionally associated with HTML. The new Text Layout Foundation is very impressive. It allows you to create page layouts that resembles printed publications. Once it gets out of beta I anticipate widespread adaption by developers, tired of a world where rounded rectangles requires jumping through ten hoops and your basic three column design is termed the holy grail.

RE: Headline's a little misleading
By B3an on 3/12/2010 5:21:42 AM , Rating: 2
Well most people, not just Mick, seem to know very little about Flash (or silverlight) and it's capabilities, even though it's all over the net.
Flash as an application platform that is capable of so many things, and HTML is just a mark-up specification. It will NEVER replace Flash.
Alot of DT readers seem to just hate flash and will rate you down regardless of facts or going to the effort of trying to educate them.

By 67STANG on 3/8/2010 4:22:29 PM , Rating: 3
The wiki article you cite is quite ambiguous.

Silverlight is more on par with Flex than with standard Flash. Silverlight is typically used for creating visual 2D/3D representations for data presentation, reporting, charts and navigation-- not creating your ubiquitous "Flash Animation" website. I'm not saying it can't evolve into that. For right now though, it is not apples to apples.

The reason I know this is that I do Silverlight/WPF development.

By chaos7 on 3/8/2010 10:15:25 AM , Rating: 5
Microsoft's latest figures show it to have 45 market penetration for Silverlight

One day I hope to have 45 arbitrary units of penetration.

RE: Penetration
By ChrisHF on 3/8/2010 10:39:03 AM , Rating: 4
That's what she said.

I'm a Flash developer
By killerclick on 3/8/2010 11:27:07 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sure Flash will be around for at least 10 more years. Many high profile sites use Flash, as do web-based games. It also has 98% market penetration as opposed to HTML5 which is not available on Firefox and Internet Explorer and has a far far smaller developer base.
I'm sure in the end one standard will prevail but by that time I'll make sure to be involved in web development in a more managerial capacity and let the kids do the actual coding. Somebody Else's Problem. :)

RE: I'm a Flash developer
By Xavi3n on 3/8/2010 1:31:41 PM , Rating: 3
I believe HTML5 was available in Firefox 3.5, which was released quite a while ago.

Granted it isn't available in IE, but then again that's not surprising.

RE: I'm a Flash developer
By B3an on 3/9/2010 2:25:18 AM , Rating: 1
HTML5 isn't even anywhere near complete, all browser implmentations are just based on a unfinished standard.

Flash is here now, it works, it can do more things than HTML5 ever can, and dev's like myself can do all the work in just one piece of software. Aswell as not worrying how each browser renders the content, as Flash Player renders it, so it alway looks exactly the same in any browser.

Right now if you want to develop a web enabled application there isn’t another option that comes close.. Trying to compare it to HTML 5/6/7/8 is just not possible. It’s like trying to compare Window 7 and HTML, nonsense. HTML is a mark-up specification, just that nothing else.

RE: I'm a Flash developer
By The0ne on 3/8/2010 2:25:33 PM , Rating: 2
Flash is not going anywhere lol. People are fooling themselves if they think it is. One key player is the porn industry. They absolutely love Flash :)

By damianrobertjones on 3/8/2010 11:44:08 AM , Rating: 2
I really don't like Flash, even though I trained in the damn thing last year.

Why don't I like it? I don't like it as even sites such as Anand/DailyTech and Toms Hardware and dish out MALWARE infected adverts as proven by the various threads posted in the miniATX thread the other day.

If sites such as these can shovel crap to the user, possibly infecting machines, then what hope do we have? Just stop this rubbish and makes things safer

RE: Yay
By The0ne on 3/8/2010 2:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
Greed is powerful stuff, more so than drugs O.o But yea, make sure you run a flash blocking plugin, even if you're going to Anand. Going to Tom's....eerr...have you even look at the crap they comes up on the blocking list? Seriousl, take a gander at them...the list is HUGE! Money money money :)

RE: Yay
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/2010 2:53:41 PM , Rating: 2
So you don't like Flash because of how some people choose to implement it ? I'm just trying to understand the rationale here.

Just say you don't like ads. Don't try to make this about Flash.

RE: Yay
By Jellodyne on 3/8/2010 4:20:18 PM , Rating: 1
It sounds to me that his issue isn't with the 'ad' part but the constant stream of Flash exploits, which is what a number of malicious ads have been using to drop some extremely malignant malware onto PCs. If they were just ads, or if Flash (or Java or Acrobat) was properly sandboxed it woun't be an issue. As it is, if your Flash isn't up to date, you can get hacked.

While this is a point for Silverlight, but everything else about Silverlight is points against. Microsoft keeps failing to take over the Internet, regrouping and declaring support for working open standards, and then tries to take over the Internet again. Propietary standards that only work in shitty IE? DO NOT WANT.

Is it just me...
By Trisagion on 3/8/2010 11:49:33 AM , Rating: 2
Or does that Silverlight logo look like a blue pair of panties?

* Must... control... thoughts... *

RE: Is it just me...
By Belard on 3/8/2010 3:05:02 PM , Rating: 1
Its just you.

More like a marble.

RE: Is it just me...
By The0ne on 3/8/2010 3:13:16 PM , Rating: 2
You're both wrong. It's the bald shape of his head. Look closely, you'll see what I'm referring to.

HTML5 and Internet Explorer
By danobrega on 3/8/2010 11:10:48 AM , Rating: 1
HTML 5 has little chance of gaining market. Microsoft has no advantage in supporting the new features of the standard in Internet Explorer since they want to push Silverlight and maintain their OS dependence and perpetrate the "lock in" syndrome.

Worse than that, consumers don't even understand the need to do stuff like what was done in the EU, forcing Windows to let people choose a different browser.

It's a shame really, cause we all have been on the situation where we say "O crap, this <INSERT RANDOM DEVICE> doesn't support this web page".

By PhatoseAlpha on 3/8/2010 2:02:19 PM , Rating: 3
While HTML5 isn't going anywhere anytime soon, it's hardly Microsoft's fault. Adding in support for that requires a browser update after the 'standards' are finally settled on, and history has shown that people simply do not do so in anything remotely resembling a reliable fashion.

By sapiens74 on 3/8/2010 12:13:52 PM , Rating: 2
No fraking Flash Ads!

By AlexWade on 3/8/2010 3:17:57 PM , Rating: 2
The No Script add-on does the same thing.

die already..
By romansky on 3/8/2010 10:18:26 AM , Rating: 2
Flash is slow to bring new features and is usually used for obtrusive ads, I personally also installed the flashblock fire fox add on..

BTW, I am a developer and I have been playing around with HTML5 and specifically the Canvas element, once a serious toolkit arrives and takes development with HTML5 simpler, the marker for Flash will be 0. (that and the html5 built in support for video).

By damianrobertjones on 3/8/2010 11:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
I would like all of the above companies to SIMPLY MAKE THE WEB A SAFER PLACE!

Stop with the crap and reduce the crap

I see them coexisting
By rudy on 3/8/2010 3:19:49 PM , Rating: 2
The big problem with HTML has always been their slow rate of creating a standard this is the advantage flash and now silver light have they can code things and make it standard almost over night. If the HTML standards board had done their job years ago we would not have flash, shockwave, silverlight or other things. But they are so slow to catch up that while HTML5 will probably be great when it releases flash and silverlight will probably give developers better tools and start taking back web sites soon after.

By Hoser McMoose on 3/9/2010 7:39:34 PM , Rating: 2
The Winter Olympics were my first real exposure to Silverlight and I have to say I was impressed! The picture quality was way beyond any streaming TV coverage I've come across before (granted, most streaming TV has terrible coverage). CPU usage wasn't too bad (rarely above 50% of one CPU core). A couple time the Firefox plugin would hang the video when in full screen mode (exiting full screen would restart it), but nothing to major. Not surprisingly the IE plugin worked a bit more smoothly, though not by enough to convince me to switch browsers.

Now I will grant that the major differentiator here was that Microsoft (or someone) provided many internets worth of bandwidth to allow for the good picture quality. Still it did act as a pretty impressive showcase of the potential for Silverlight.

By DanaGoyette on 3/10/2010 12:51:29 AM , Rating: 2
Not only does Silverlight often use less CPU than Flash (at least in the few places I've seen Silverlight); it's also at least slightly more open-source -- that is, there's the open-source Moonlight project through Microsoft and Novell.
Granted, it's still somewhat behind the Windows version, but at least it's created through collaboration with Microsoft, and not just reverse-engineered. Can't say that about Adobe and Flash.

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