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Never look back! Something may be gaining on you!
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 05 October 2007 10:34

Perspective: Is Adobe breathing down Microsoft's neck?
By Charles Cooper
Published: October 5, 2007, 4:00 AM PDT
C/Net News

perspective Remember the initial hoo-ha that greeted Netscape in the mid-'90s? The idea being that a new computing platform--in this case the Web browser--would obviate the need to use Microsoft Windows anymore.
That fired imaginations. Instead of writing applications chained to a proprietary operating system, developers would build programs that ran on top of the Internet browser.

Microsoft was dead in the water. Or so a lot of smart people wanted to believe.

Even Netscape's co-founder, Marc Andreessen, got caught up in the hype, famously dismissing Windows as a "poorly debugged set of device drivers." A lot of people felt the same way. If the industry was about to embrace Web-centric computing, Microsoft would be in danger of losing its hegemony over desktop computing.

Of course, if I had a nickel for every time some smarty-pants claimed to have found a surefire Microsoft killer, I wouldn't have to meet deadlines for a living. The optimistic scenario obviously didn't work out the way Andreessen and his fellow travelers hoped it would. But the final coda had yet to be engraved on this story.

 Now comes the announcement of a new product from Adobe Systems that intrigues me--as much for what it suggests about Adobe's ambitions as for what it might presage about the future.

I'm simplifying, but Adobe Integrated Runtime, or AIR, lets you build applications that are kind of the best of both worlds. That is, they'll run in a Web browser or as a standard client app on your desktop (and, presumably, OS-agnostic, too).

There's a lot of activity in this field--including the rise of browser-based Office competitors. This cross-platform development approach has been attempted before. Sun is still trying with Java on desktop. The company announced Java FX at JavaOne this year.

Of course, there are some potential limitations. People can do a lot with scripting languages. (That's where Ajax comes in. You can write an AIR application with an Ajax toolkit.) Adobe's doing Photoshop Express with scripting, but some apps still will require the native OS. But to the degree that any of this is successful, it means the further marginalization of Windows (someday, maybe).... Much more   Comment in the Forums


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