Microsoft, Adobe have confidence for Silverlight, Flash

The HTML5 specification could be a game-changer in the rich Internet application realm, but representatives of Microsoft and Adobe Systems, both of which have proprietary plug-ins for Web applications, remained confident Thursday in their companies’ Web strategies.


Executives from the two companies served on a panel during a session entitled, “The Web is the Platform,” at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) in San Francisco. Panelists were asked what would be the roles for their companies with standard technologies such as HTML5 on the horizon for Web presentation and user experience.


Microsoft, for its part, has its own Silverlight plug-in technology and also made a big endorsement of HTML5 this week. “What’s unique about Microsoft’s position here is we actually provide value across both of these [technologies],” said panelist Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft lead product manager for Web Platform and Tools.


Echoing comments a colleague made earlier this week, Goldfarb stressed there would be a symbiotic relationship between the standard and Microsoft technologies. Plug-ins have provided bleeding-edge technology and driven innovation subsequently codified in standards, Goldfarb said in an interview after the session.


“There’s absolutely room for both,” Goldfarb said. Some scenarios can use standards-based technologies while Silverlight and Adobe’s Flash still can “push the bleeding edge,” he said.


Panelist Dave McAllister, director of open source and standards at Adobe, stressed there are also other standards such as CSS3 to ponder. He cited Adobe’s own strategy in the Web tools space.


“Very honestly, Adobe’s an arms dealer. We build the best tooling environment delivered for the Web,” McAllister said. Whatever the Web platform becomes, Adobe will build tools for it, he said. Adobe will not stop building tools, he said.


Panelists also recognized the continued trend of open source. “We’re finding that open source can be a very efficient way to deliver software,” said panelist Dion Almaer, director of developer relations at Palm. Open source, however, is “not a silver bullet to anything,” he said.


Discussing the “open data” trend, McAllister questioned whether companies can make money off the concept. “Sooner or later, a lot of us are in the business of trying to put their sons through college,” McAllister said. There needs to be a way to make money in the data, he said.


Goldfarb pointed out Microsoft’s backing of the Open Data Protocol, or OData, which serves as an extension of the Atom Publishing Protocol. The trend around data is all about the consumer and consumption experience, he said. Microsoft’s “Dallas” project, Goldfarb said, features large data sets for use in applications. Data could be delivered to consumers and businesses built around data services, he said.

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