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Microsoft Moves in on the Graphics Market 237

Posted by Zonk
from the good-visuals-lucrative-software dept.
Ian Lamont writes "Microsoft has quietly been building up graphics-related R&D, reports Computerworld, noting that Microsoft employees will be presenting one out of every eight papers at SIGGRAPH 2007. And it's not a fluke — other recent Microsoft graphics-related developments include Photosynth, which has been discussed on Slashdot several times, as well as the Silverlight/Expression Studio graphics suite, which will compete with Adobe's Flash/Illustrator/Lightroom/Dreamweaver offerings. At SIGGRAPH, Microsoft will supposedly have demos of some new software including image deblurring tools and Soft Scissors, which 'solves the vexing problem of how to cut and paste an image from one background to another if the image's edges — hair blowing in the wind, blades of grass — are very complex.' Microsoft's competitors aren't sitting down. Adobe's CEO, calling Microsoft a '$50 billion monopolist,' has questioned whether Silverlight will be compatible with non-Windows operating systems, and Google has also been building up its own graphics-related software products, such as the 3D modeling tool SketchUp, and Google Earth."
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Microsoft Moves in on the Graphics Market

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  • by HaloMan (314646) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:56PM (#20173209) Homepage
    but I can't feel any sympathy for Adobe, who is increasingly monopolising the design arena with their obscenely priced tools. Competition is good, no matter what your opinion on Microsoft is - someone needs to take on rapidly enlarging 500lb gorilla that is Adobe, particularly since they took over Macromedia.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by phalse phace (454635)

      Adobe, who is increasingly monopolising the design arena with their obscenely priced tools.


      What? You actually pay for your Adobe program(s)?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KlomDark (6370)
      Adobe? The same lazy company that STILL hasn't released a 64-bit Flash player for either Windows or Linux. XP x64 has been out for something like four years now, now Vista x64 is out too.

      Unacceptable - 64-bit is solidly here now, even my non-technical mom, and my son's daycare provider, both have 64-bit machines. (Albeit with 32 bit XP on them)

      Much as I dislike a lot of stuff about Microsoft, I'm sold on Silverlight. Adobe's apparently ignoring the evolution of their products. I am very sick of getting "Cli
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Pyrion (525584)
        Mozilla has yet to release an "official" Firefox x64 build for Windows, so complain to them first. 32-bit Flash works just fine within 32-bit Firefox on Vista x64.

        Really, I don't see them moving to 64-bit until they actually have reason to. Either MS forces the issue (by abandoning 32-bit) or memory requirements force the issue.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by amsr (125191)
        Honestly, do you really care that much about watching YouTube videos and website ads in 64bit? I mean I could understand if you were complaining about photoshop, but flash player? What does 64 bit flash playing get you over 32bit flash playing?
  • by BobPaul (710574) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:57PM (#20173219) Journal

    Adobe's CEO, calling Microsoft a '$50 billion monopolist,' has questioned whether Silverlight will be compatible with non-Windows operating systems
    While it's certainly a valid point, I can't help remember how long it took Adobe to build Flash 9 for Linux, after first stating that Flash 7 would be the last version available. I'm just as concerned with Flash10 support for non-Windows OSs as I am Silverlight support.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      Let them both die and the world will be a better place. I'm talking primarily about Flash and Silverlight.
    • I have to agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:08PM (#20173381)
      What, specifically, is Bruce Chizen's plan to support non-Microsoft OS's?

      Don't bitch about how the bad monopoly is being mean to you when you aren't doing anything much to help the nascent competition.

      Paying one programmer to port and support your apps on other platforms does more than all the public whining about how Microsoft is being mean.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by semiotec (948062)
      Exactly. Not to mention the still total absence of major non-free (as in beer) Adobe products (e.g. Acrobat, Photoshop-related) for Linux. They were quite happy being the "monopoly" in their areas, and as far as I know, they only really opened up the PDF spec after MS announced Metro as a direct competitor to Adobe.

      They should stop complaining about MS monopoly when they are one of the major contributing factors towards preventing people moving away from MS products. Even Mac users are treated as second cla
      • PDF has always always been an open format. They just made it open-er. I'd like them to open source flash, that way every platform on the planet will have it and solidify its dominance in the market over MS's crap.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)
      Maybe. At least Adobe is just slow and/or lazy. MS has a vested interest in crippling OSes other than Windows.
    • by Almahtar (991773)
      "While it's certainly a valid point, I can't help remember how long it took Adobe to build Flash 9 for Linux, after first stating that Flash 7 would be the last version available. I'm just as concerned with Flash10 support for non-Windows OSs as I am Silverlight support."

      Adobe never stated that Flash 7 would be the last version available for Linux. Macromedia said that. Adobe didn't own Macromedia until after Flash 8 was released, as a matter of fact.

      The very first version of flash Adobe released (flash 9
      • by BobPaul (710574) *

        Adobe never stated that Flash 7 would be the last version available for Linux. Macromedia said that. Adobe didn't own Macromedia until after Flash 8 was released, as a matter of fact.

        Maybe they didn't, but Macromedia had stated they were skipping Flash 8 for Linux and stating somewhat publically in 2005 [macromedia.com]that Flash 9 would be the next to support Linux. We didn't like that, but accepted it. At least it wasn't dead. When Adobe bought them, I seem to remember a statement that Adobe had killed the Flash 9 for Linux project. It was months later before I read on an Adobe blog that they were working on it after all. It could have just been speculation and hype ("OMG! They're not going to do ano

        • by pressman (182919)
          And I'm sure they're really worried about the sour grapes from all 800 Flash viewing Linux users out there. Seriously, the linux faction really needs to understand that, from a business standpoint, worrying about this insanely small user base simply doesn't make sense. Now you know how it feels to be a Mac user who likes to play video games.
        • by Almahtar (991773)
          The difference is that since this has been in Adobe's hands we haven't seen terrible offense yet. I'm not saying we won't soon enough, but I'm saying we can't take Macromedia's bad rep and apply it to Adobe until Adobe gives us reason, and they haven't (yet).
      • by Khuffie (818093)
        I do believe that that bug was related to Firefox, and not Flash itself. It happened in Firefox on Windows but not in IE or Opera.
        • by Almahtar (991773)
          I never got it in Windows, but I did see mention of it in the changelogs at penguin.swf as being fixed, so I'm lead to believe it was specific to the Linux version. Either way it's fixed so who cares anymore :-) Water under the bridge.
  • by bluemonq (812827) * on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:57PM (#20173225)
    Is that what I'll need to input in order to access the graphics-related functionality in Google Earth?
    • No. You'll need to pony up $400 per year for Google Earth Pro.

      Google Earth is a very useful tool for architects when used with SketchUp. The $400/year license for the Pro version lets you save higher quality images and gives you the right to use them in presentations and renderings.
  • Compatibility... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laddy (159448) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:58PM (#20173237)

    "Adobe's CEO ... has questioned whether Silverlight will be compatible with non-Windows operating systems"

    Because I've neeever had problems with Flash on my Linux machine...

  • by icepick72 (834363) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:04PM (#20173313)
    Adobe's CEO, calling Microsoft a '$50 billion monopolist,' has questioned whether Silverlight will be compatible with non-Windows operating systems,


    Silverlight has been cross-platform since launch. The Adobe CEO questioned whether this would persist. Microsoft didn't invest on porting a subset of the .NET framework to Mac only to deprecate it. No, Silverlight will continue to be cross-platform for long while ... especially if the marketplace stays competitive. Whether or not its optimized well enough for the other platforms, well that's another story.

    • by Arimus (198136)
      Does Adobe's comments smack of the pot calling the kettle black - for serious graphics work Adobe are top (only?) dog, PDF for all its faults is a defacto standard - and love it or lothe it that means so is Acrobat....
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PyroPunk (545300)
      It's cross platform from the standpoint of the browser plugin works on Windows and Mac, but to create the Silverlight content that runs you need to do it on Windows; at least at this point. Expression isn't a Mac tool. But, I can fire up Flash on Windows or Mac to create Flash content, and also use some Open Source tools on Linux to do that. I think that may be what he means on cross platform.
    • by larien (5608) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:39PM (#20173793) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft didn't invest on porting a subset of the .NET framework to Mac only to deprecate it.
      LMAO... Are you serious? It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they did that. They pay lip service to "cross-platform", get everyone to invest their futures in it, get locked in and then they stop maintaining it. That way, everyone now has a load of windows-only stuff that they're stuck with.
      • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dadoo (899435) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:58PM (#20174047) Journal
        That way, everyone now has a load of windows-only stuff that they're stuck with.

        This is one of the reasons I think Mono is a bad idea. All Microsoft has to do is be friendly to Mono, until everyone drops their guard and decides it's okay to develop in dotNET. Then, all they need to do is start enforcing their patents, and it's all over...
        • Re:Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

          by icepick72 (834363) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:08PM (#20175693)
          Somebody yells "patents" and everybody agrees even if no information is given, at least it's a nice sound byte to buy karma. What patents might that be? Are there any?... and how would they be used? ... aw forget it because that might lead to constructive or clear points. It's unfortunate so many people are willing to jump on a bandwagon because that's where the party is. Hey Microsoft sucks YAY!
          • by Dadoo (899435)
            it's a nice sound byte to buy karma

            I wasn't actually trying to buy karma, or even say anything important, really, I was just trying to point out the OP to the mods, since I don't currently have any mod points. If I thought anyone would have read my post, past the title, I would have tried to be more clear. I'm as surprised as you are that I got modded up.
      • by icepick72 (834363)
        People think Microsoft can pull any stunt at any time to tie in users. That's not the reality of the world we live in no matter how much Microsoft is disliked. It's also pure speculation which is not a solid foundation on which to discard products. Serious companies wouldn't put up with behaviour.
  • by bcolflesh (710514) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:09PM (#20173407) Homepage
    Looks like a great tool to me:

    http://vis.berkeley.edu/papers/softscissors/ [berkeley.edu]
    • by figleaf (672550)
      Man. Thats very impressive.
    • by Thagg (9904)
      Indeed, the softscissors tool looks completely amazing. There is a tool called Knockout that did something like what softscissors does, but they have taken it quite a ways beyond what Knockout has done. Of course, Knockout is a "product" where softscissors is a "research program", and it will be interesting to see if there are problems with the softscissors technology that will show up if they do productize it.

      Basically, what these tools do is semi-automatic matte generation. Most people are familiar wit
  • by fistfullast33l (819270) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:09PM (#20173411) Homepage Journal
    But isn't Microsoft the developer of Direct3D, which is now a premiere graphics API for anything Windows? Yes, OpenGL still is extremely important, but I just don't see why it's a surprise that Microsoft has so many researchers contributing to the field of computer graphics when they develop one of the two biggest graphics platforms in the world.
    • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:19PM (#20173527)
      Its not only DirectX, MS was involved with OpenGL years ago as well until the OpenGL group didn't want to target 3D hardware for gaming.

      MS also has put a lot of money in research in the area of Graphics, from photo recognition to camera input device concepts, etc.

      There is also the entire XBox division which has now spent years understanding graphics, rendering, and has even been instrumental in shaping the design of GPUs in NVidia and ATI cards.

      XBox technology is also at the heart of the new Vista graphics subsystem. Adding features that make up DX10 and WDDM, all the way from unified Shaders to GPU RAM virtualization to OS level GPU pre-emption and physics/math support on GPUs through a standard API.
  • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:11PM (#20173435)
    In other related news today:

    Microsoft Nurtures Linux Silverlight Port
    http://www.sdtimes.com/article/LatestNews-20070801 -46.html [sdtimes.com]

    I have more faith in MS and Silverlight on cross platform than I do Flash anymore after the past few years. Not only is Silverlight already available on other platforms it even supports 64bit (gasp).

    And this is just the Silverlight 1.0 RC and MS doesn't expect long range use or adoption until 1.1 is finalized as it adds in massive amounts of support for web interaction and more language support. (1.1 is already in developer circles, and will be out not long after 1.0)

    Also for people worried about adoption, take a look at MLB.com. There are a lot things in Silverlight especially on the programming side that Flash just can't do easily. Silverlight not only builds on Vista XAML technology for the web but also does HD quality video and can also do single feed streaming unlike Flash.
    • What is Single Feed streaming? Can you elaborate?
      • Multi-Cast would have been a better team. In other words the Video Content provider only has to allocate bandwidth for 1 stream of the content even if 100,000 people are viewing the video at the same time.

        This is used already in Radio on the web and is becoming more important with Video on the web with Live Broadcasting of HD content.

        Basically even a small internet company could provide 100 channels of HD video content in live streams via Silverlight.

        (This is what Windows Media Server technologies already d

    • This is basically good news. Adobe software is certainly cross platform if cross platform is defined as Windows and Mac. But Adobe has been no great track record on supporting Linux. Even Flash player and Acroread, which have had Linux support, have had big holes and delays compared to Windows and Mac.

      As others have pointed out, while MS has a monopoly on PC OS and Office software, Adobe has a near monopoly on the graphics content creation market, their products are expensive, and they could certainly us
      • by pressman (182919)
        Adobe most certainly could use some competition, but whoever decides to charge this windmill has a big fight ahead of them as the Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Flash and AfterEffects products are are incredible. Apple, who basically sold hardware to video editors, really has been putting the fires to Avid in the NLE space and video editors could not be happier. Avid and Apple are both putting out great products as a direct result of the competition.

        Quark was FORCED to finally impro
    • by Dadoo (899435) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:14PM (#20174241) Journal
      I have more faith in MS and Silverlight on cross platform than I do Flash

      Come on. You can't seriously believe Silverlight will continue to be cross-platform, after Microsoft has a large enough installed base.
      • by MenTaLguY (5483)
        One needn't have faith that Silverlight will continue to be cross-platform to have more faith in Silverlight's cross-platform availability than Flash's.
        • by Dadoo (899435)
          I dunno, Flash 9 (or is it 10?) seems to work perfectly well on my 64-bit SuSE 10.0 laptop.
      • Come on. You can't seriously believe Silverlight will continue to be cross-platform, after Microsoft has a large enough installed base.

        Ask a Mac user about how well Microsoft holds up with their commitments to cross-platform apps...

        Internet Explorer for Mac: canceled
        WMP for Mac: canceled
        Office: delayed, all support for VBA macros removed
        MSN messenger: lags far behind windows version, will probably be canceled soon
        Virtual PC: canceled (too hard to port from PPC OSX to x86 OSX. They still maintain the x86 Wi
  • If I Were Adobe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by balazsa (192045) <balazsa@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:13PM (#20173457) Homepage
    If I were Adobe, I would start to push Linux products out of the door like crazy.
    • They would be very wise to do more in Linux, but it's just not likely.

      1. Worked with Adobe corporate types I can tell you the riskiest thing they've done in a LONG time is choosing a new restaurant for lunch.

      2. They've got the Graphic Design market easily in hand world wide. Moreover, the mere discussion of alternatives to many people that use their tools every day is a thoughtcrime. Why screw that up by validating Linux? If they offer any of their desktop publishing software on linux, then the good Free
    • by owlnation (858981)

      If I were Adobe, I would start to push Linux products out of the door like crazy.

      I agree they should. That would make sense. However, note how long it took them to release products for Intel Macs. And note that only now they are trying to recapture some of the video editing market with Premiere Pro for Mac. I think it will be a long long time before they can get their act together for Linux.

      This is a shame because this really hurts Linux. I'd love to upgrade my windows box to Linux - but I can't becaus

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:21PM (#20173559)
    I think Dreamweaver may have officially jumped the shark with the Adobe acquisition. The damn install put 800 MEG of adobe bloat, a new bonjour service, and a licensing service onto my system before it laid down a single Dreamweaver directory.

    And starting Dreamweaver revealed a program (unlike the CS3 suite) that looked suspiciously (almost exactly like) Dreamweaver 8. It had a new tab for Adobe's Ajax framework and it might have some new support for cold fusion which I don't need.

    It can no longer be said that Dreamweaver is kick-ass, open platform, in a lightweight package. It may even be bigger than Expression!!!!!! And MS has been learning from Dreamweaver. Expression only targets .net 2.0, but Dreamweaver as done nothing but go backwards.

  • I would be after the markets too. Also video, audio and whatever else I could get at. Some plans will pan out and some won't, but it is irresponsible (as far as the company goes) to not try to dominate such markets. It' about the money. Last time I checked, Adobe was not a registered charity.

    What pisses us off most is that for a lot of computing, MS has suceeded.
  • dumb companies... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Software application companies only develop for Windows, help MS keep their OS monopoly up, and then cry when MS decides to take those app companies' market too. They enabled it with their short sightedness.
  • Just desserts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPAM.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @03:52PM (#20173955) Homepage
    It is many of these companies that, through the release of countless windows programs, many exclusively for windows, that have helped microsoft get to where they are today.
    Did they really believe that microsoft wouldn't move in on their territory sooner or later?
  • by I'm Don Giovanni (598558) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:08PM (#20174173)
    "Adobe's CEO, calling Microsoft a '$50 billion monopolist,' has questioned whether Silverlight will be compatible with non-Windows operating systems [computerworld.com]..."

    That Adobe "monopolist" quote is 4 months old. Did that quote really need to be dragged out again for this story?
    (BTW, Adobe has some nerve calling someone else a "monopolist" when Adobe tried to collude with MS in price fixing to protect its own Office to PDF export monopoly (Adobe proposed that MS could include PDF export functionality in Office 2k7 if MS up'ed the price so as not to undercut Adobe's Office PDF-export tools.))

    And Silverlight is already working on Macs, so the question of Silverlight being "compatilble with non-Windows operating systems" is more 4-month old FUD.

    The submitter should've just gone with the story at hand, not dig up a 4-month old story about Adobe's fears of competing with Silverlight.

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:36PM (#20174551) Journal
    Adobe is a monopoly unto itself!

    Image editing? Photoshop. Sure there's GIMP, but frankly, GIMP sucks and has no value outside of RGB colour space. There are a few other apps, (Painter, Corel, etc.) but the POINT is: pros use Photoshop because it is the best. Period.

    Bezier Curve? Illustrator. There used to be a better app, Freehand, but it died in the Macromedia acquisition.

    Page Layout? Sure, there's Quark, but everyone HATES Quark, and InDesign does the job. So, that's not a monopoly, yet...

    Web Design? Dreamweaver. nuff said.

    Web based animation? Flash.

    Adobe completely dominates the graphic design industry, and for Adobe to make noises about MS being some kind of a monopoly is simply ludicrous.

    RS

    • by HonkyLips (654494)
      I don't disagree with you, but in my experiece Adobe software has been great, so I've never complained- or even thought of Adobe as an evil monopoly. Microsoft doesn't have a good reputation for software quality and it's easy to find stories of Microsoft bugs seriousing affecting user's workflow, or simply their ability to do their job. I'm basically a professional After Effects user and I've never come across a bug in the application which has prevented me from doing my job, or working to a professional
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      krita supports CMYK and is a much better app than gimp. KDE FTW!

      feel free to flame me to death now.
    • by pressman (182919)
      I'm sorry, but Freehand was garbage compared to Illustrator after AI7 hit the market. AI8 is what officially killed Freehand. Freehand peaked at version 5.5 and then languished in the "complement Flash" area until it finally met it's well deserved end in the Adobe acquisition.

      Freehand was a legacy Aldus app. It tried to be an illustration AND page layout program and was not terribly well suited to either task. I've worked in multimedia, design and print shops and we always cringed when we were handed a mult
  • Microsoft (as a monopolist) will stifle innovation by (what in this case seems to be) innovating?
  • Hey Adobe! There are other OS's that OS X and Windows! Make your stuff work in Linux! ALL of it! I seriously hope that M$ creating this stuff will cause adobe to make their suites for Linux. I don't care if its closed source I just don't wanna have to use windows for graphics stuff anymore! I wanna use my 64bit processor for reals! And then I hope other popular art packages move to Linux and then the world will be safer and those Dell PC's with Ubuntu installed will be worth something to some people! Some
    • by pressman (182919)
      Face it. You're not in their target market. If you and the others want to play with the good graphics apps currently out... you have 2 options. Work in Windows on your cheap ass homemade or cheap ass Dell box and grumble about it's performance or fork out and get a real graphics production machine... otherwise known as a Mac. The Mac is the domain of the graphics world... Windows can keep it's gaming dominance and Linux can retain it's dominance in... well, keeping hardcore geeks happy... we Macheads will a
  • I've mentioned MicroSoft's SIGGRAPH prowess several times in earlier threads. I'm glad they are starting to get results out into products. I asked this of a DirectX MicroSoft Developer at an earlier SIGGRAPH. He said the slowness was due to internal company politics. The people working on conventional products (such as that developer) view many of the researchers as pampered prima-donas and shy away from using their results. I've seen this happen in other companies too.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:31PM (#20176049)
    I've attended many conferences in computer science and the physical sciences (I develop visualization tools for the energy industry) and I have to say SIGGRAPH is hands-down the most fun conference I attend. SIGGRAPH includes core graphics, advanced hardware, and special techniques used for movies and video games. This year there were several "how they did it" sessions from major movie studios. The young F/X Turks get up and expalin their amazing tricks to adulation of the audience. You can skim the exhibits and showrooms for a day for less than hundred dollars or listen to mathematically intense courses and papers all week.

    2007 San Diego conference ended today. Los Angeles in 2008! (Big party city with all the studios)
  • Microsoft has too many battles going on. The list is long--MS vs Sony/NES, MS vs the Linux/Open source community, MS vs Apple iPod, MS vs Google, etc.. Now MS want to take on Adobe/Macromedia? In the end I think that this is a losing proposition for them. In fact it already might be happening. Their core product, the Windows OS, had a launch that was lackluster at best and Office had a little better reception than that. And it took them, what 5 years, to get it to market? Now they want to get into the graph
  • Someone's gotta' ward off the Adobe/Macromedia juggernaut. Only goliaths can take on each other. In the meantime instead of watching the fight the open source community can try to push its products up some notches. It would be interesting to think of scenarios about how to go about doing this. Is there a such thing as "open marketing"?

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