Enterprise Initiatives

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Both Adobe and Microsoft are fighting hard to be the preferred vendor for RIA development. They both are awesome tools that will change the way we use the web in years to come. But when it comes to deployment, there is only one option for me and that is Flex. The main reason, 99% of all PCs and laptops have Flash installed on it.
If you look at this chart you don't even see the Silverlight plugin. That is because it is so new that it will take a while to penetrate the market. But even Microsoft's most popular desktop add-on, Microsoft Windows Media Player, only reaches 83.6% of the desktops.

Silverlight will struggle to get widely adopted just like Winforms did. The problem with Winforms is it requires the .Net framework to be installed on the client PC. According to Microsoft's own website, the .Net framework is at about a 58% penetration rate. Keep in mind that the framework only comes into play on Windows operating systems. I don't know about you, but I won't have any success convincing all of my 500 manufacturer and retailer clients to install the framework on all of their desktops. But my Flash applications will work fine since they all already have Flash installed, regardless of which operating system they run.

Microsoft did learn from the failed approach with Winforms and addresses this issue with the Silverlight plugin. The problem now for Microsoft is how will they get the necessary penetration that customers like me require. Microsoft is also working with the open source community so Silverlight will work on Linux (see Moonlight). This is a great strategy. But I can't wait 2-3 years until Silverlight penetrates over 90% of the laptops and PCs across all operating systems.

Don't get me wrong, I like what I have seen (download plugin at own risk) from Silverlight as far as ease of use and functionality. If you are building applications for users that you have total control of their desktop, then Silverlight is an awesome choice for you. But for those of us who have no control over the client, Adobe Flex beats Silverlight every time.


  1. chall3ng3r  

    nice analysis, and i agree with you about panetration of Flash.

    yes, Flex is soo power full tool, v2 is quite mature, and v3 beta, it rocks.

    i have couple of points to add,

    Adobe (ealier Macromedia) has also learned from thier failed product, Central. so MS is new to RIA world, and still learning. but they should learn from past experiments from other companies.

    Flex is like Visual Studio, its a developers tool. Silverlight tools are currently not stable. and process seems dependent on multiple IDEs, Blend, Design, VS2008(for v1.1), where as Flex is one tool for all client-side development.

    i'm waiting for SL1.1, and i hope by then, SL tools will be robust and stable as Flex :)

    // chall3ng3r //

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