Commentary on Silverlight Article

Charlie Fink at Internet IT BusinessNET has raised some very good questions about RIA. His article asks Has Microsoft finally seen the (Silver) Light? and What are RIA-Rich Internet Applications?. Now the article does catch the flavor of what is happening in the RIA field but misses two important ingredients – RIA is morphing to RAIA-Rich Anywhere Interface Applications and thus omits some major characteristics of the market. So I tried to add a comment – but without success.

So here is my comment which did preview but unfortunately has yet to appear:
“This is good but limited exposure for RIA – the missing ingredients are two fold. First, you fail to mention one of the bigesst drivers for RIA 2 or RAIA-Rich Anywhere Interface Applications. As implied SilverLight and Flash/Flex/Air from Adobe are in a fight over who will develop and deliver the best runs anywhere (any OS, any browser, any UI device including mobiles, kiosks, etc) interface runtimes. This means both online and offline operation.

Now Microsoft has only partially seen the light on the nature of this market. Developers are tired of developing one set of code for desktop, one for browser, yet another for UIs for mobiles/kiosk/etc. So Microsoft Silverlight runs in Vista and Windows/XP and MacOS. It runs on Safari MacOS (but not Windows), Firefox and IE browsers on those OS. So Microsoft is once again blind to Linux, Solaris, Symbian and its own Windows versions such as ME, 98, 2000, and NT. Also the RAIA revolution is also browser agnostic embracing Opera, Safari everywhere, Konqueror and a host of other browsers. Microsoft has put its own market limiting blinders on Silverlight for both the supported OSs and browsers.

The second and an almost equally grave omission in your story is the availability of RAIA entries from Sun with Java/JavaFX, OpenLaszlo, and some of the AJAX frameworks that are now supporting offline as well as online operations. These are major players which have and will continue to shape this rapidly emrging market.

Now let there be no mistake – Adobe and these other entrants are not totally Open Source (though each has an important Open Source component). These are all commercial offerings to various degrees. In sum, the RIA or RAIA field is wide open – much broader in players and much broader in scope of OS, browser and devices supported than implied in your article. “