There’s always a lot of back and forth between the Flash crowd and the Silverlight crowd. And that’s fine, everyone needs an enemy and competition ends up driving everyone to have better features, better performance, and a better platform. But one of the things I’ve always thought was that Microsoft’s entry into the RIA space would end up being good for everyone. Microsoft has a lot of developers but there are also a lot of developers who don’t like and won’t use a Microsoft solution. Those people also need RIAs.
According to the Gartner MarketScope on RIAs it looks like Microsoft jumping into RIAs pushed adoption across the board in 2009. I don’t have the full report yet but here’s the quote from the blog post that stood out:
Now that Microsoft has validated “heavy RIA” in the eyes of many enterprises, interest in RIA technologies is increasing across the board. Frequent Gartner inquiries indicate that clients pit Ajax vs. Flash vs. Silverlight against each other in evaluations for new RIA projects. What does this mean for JavaFX and other technologies? Tough to say for sure, but my bet is that the “heavy RIA” arena comes down to a battle between Adobe and Microsoft, and that there is enough room in the market for both to be successful.
This isn’t supposed to be a happy-feelgood post. I want Adobe and our community to kick ass and continue to be the leaders in the RIA space. But I’m glad Microsoft is raising awareness; it helps when we can talk about why our platform is better for RIAs and not go back to what RIAs are .
I’m stoked about 2010. Especially if it’s a battle between Ajax, Flash, and Silverlight. We’re starting to get a big lead in mobile, AIR continues to do well as a desktop RIA solution, and we’re starting to monetize our own RIAs with services like Acrobat.com. There’s been a slight trend towards “native” which is being led by the iPhone, but don’t discount the persistent desire to create rich, desktop-like experiences with all of the flexibility and scope of the web. The web is still going to win and RIAs will be a big part of that.