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Longhorn's Flash Killer? 784

SunSaw writes "Erin Joyce reports on that "Top developers at Microsoft are working on a new graphics and animation toolset for Longhorn (the next generation of Windows) that could spell trouble for Macromedia's popular Flash MX and Director MX animation tools". Flash's yet-to-be-released competition from M$ is code named "Sparkle" but it wasn't demonstrated during Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles last week. Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?"
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Longhorn's Flash Killer?

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  • by Cranx ( 456394 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:20PM (#7410410), no.
  • ...with its product activation gibberish as described in this tale of woe [].
  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:24PM (#7410483) Homepage Journal
    "Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?"

    No, it's another nail in the anti-trust coffin for Microsoft.
  • If (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonymousCowheart ( 646429 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:24PM (#7410485) Homepage
    If it were to be the beginning of the end for flash/macromedia, they would HAVE to make sparkle compatible with previous versions of IE. Since most people STILL are using windows 98, they won't have the cutting edge IE, and there is less of a chance that they would upgrade to a new IE. thus, sparkle would have to work w/older versions of IE. ofcourse, in the end its up to the web developer, and since everyone caters to the masses (IE) it seems like it may be some time before this actually does 'kill' flash.
  • by jlrobins_uncc ( 136569 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:25PM (#7410499)
    I'll bet that it will not require a plugin for IE, making web animation display on windows+IE avoid the plugin patent.

    Not good at all for Flash.
  • by herrvinny ( 698679 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:25PM (#7410501)
    Whenever I see "is this the beginning of the end" I know the submitter is full of it. First it was that Java DB, Prevaylor or something. Now it's this, next it'll be that. Face it people, it's not the beginning of the end. It's not even the end to the beginning. Chances are, Macromedia and MS will fight it out, MS will win (hopefully. It's a pain to tell computer incompetent people to go download the Flash plugin. They go "doh, what's a plugin"), or MS might buy out Macromedia (they do make that Dreamweaver site builder - nice piece of software) or MS's software might fall into a totally different niche than what Flash does. It's going to take at least another 5 -6 years for this saga to start unrolling, so keep your hats on, people.
  • Not sure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:25PM (#7410504) Journal
    Those graphic designers are hard to get to switch to something new. Many know flash and Action Script so well, I can't see them switching. I'm guessing M$ will somehow disable Flash support in their browser.

    Sparkle? Couldn't they come up with a better name? The blatant rip-off of not only ideas, but names, is insane.
  • by notsewmit ( 655779 ) * <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:25PM (#7410517)
    Actually, in a way you may be correct. Lots of people in high school and even college first learn about databases using Access and that's how they get their interest in it. I'm not saying they learn everything there is to know about Flash, but that the learn some of the basics and become interested in developing their skills with a better software package.
  • by jonfromspace ( 179394 ) <jonwilkins@gmCOF ... m minus caffeine> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:27PM (#7410543)
    Especially as long as DreamWeaver is so vastly supirior to FrontPage.

    Flash ain't (unfortunatly) goin' anywhere.
  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:31PM (#7410590) Journal

    Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?
    Yes, just like .NET killed Java. Oh, wait...
  • by forii ( 49445 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:33PM (#7410631)
    Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?

    God, I hope so. Flash is the absolute worst thing to hit the web since the blink tag. And no, stupid little animations don't make it better.

    My browsing experience improved considerably the day I uninstalled (thanks for making it so non-easy, macromedia!) flash.

    Now if only web designers around the world would realize that I go to their website for information, not to see their cute little flash animation intro. I know you're a frustrated movie/art student. Deal with it and let me get the info I need.

    My only problem with this is that if Microsoft's integrated toolset takes off, then they'll make it completely impossible to remove.
  • Security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ragingmime ( 636249 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:34PM (#7410645) Homepage
    But the tool goes beyond Flash in delivering a .NET application that has access to all the APIs in Longhorn,

    Wow, that sounds like a security hole just waiting to be exploited. I'm sure Microsoft will make some attempt to cover their butts, but they haven't had the greatest track record so far. Look at ActiveX - some unwitting user clicks a "yes" button on a popup, and suddenly a program can do whatever it wants to the machine. I know Microsoft has time to make it secure, and maybe they'll surprise me and do that, but I'm not holding my breath.
  • Just another POS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by adler187 ( 448837 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:37PM (#7410686) Journal
    So what if MS packs in another free application that is supposed to "kill the competition" with Longhorn. Look at other such programs: Frontpage Express, Wordpad, and the ever so popular video editing program Movie Maker. Sure they are great programs to play with, but no real professional is going to make a webpage in FP or write a document in wordpad, or edit movies in Movie Maker. "Sparkle" will only be another MS "innovation" flop.
  • by salimfadhley ( 565599 ) < minus poet> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:39PM (#7410715) Homepage Journal
    As the only developer in my company who knows enough about our content management system I end up having to do the macromedia integration work. Last week I wrote a whole bunch of ActionScript 2 (ECMAscript between you and me) classes that allow all various types of flash applications to talk with our server by XML.

    My impression of working with Flash is that it is a product desperate to dis-associate it'self from the version 1-4 days, when it was a product only suitable for designers. The MX2004 product whilst lacking in stability provides a more robust (semi-strongly typed) scripting language.

    The addition of scriptable components for managing text, media and sound makes it an almost credible application prototyping environment.

    In order to get my work done I had to find myself a spare computer in the office that has Windows on it because Macromedia refuse to support anything other than Windows and Mac (badly). The fact that most web developers are running LAMP (Linux, Apache, PHP, MySQL) seems to have evaded the Flash development team.

    I suspect that this competition from microsoft is exactly what they need to encourage them to produce a Linux port of their flagship application. Previously Macromedia claimed that the Linux market was insignificant, however they will soon find that their windows market will shrink when the MS developers decide they prefer to script .Net Sparkle applets instead of Flash.

    A Linux port would be fresh grounds for Macromedia, and a welcome addition to the range of commercial software available for Linux. It would also be a good way for Macromedia to get some revenge on Microsoft who seem to be about to pull the carpet from beneath Macromedia's feet.
  • Re:Thank god (Score:2, Insightful)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:40PM (#7410727) Homepage Journal
    but my boss won't be able to make me install it on my Linux dev box.
    He'll not need to. If Mozilla et al do not support this new technology, then an increasing amount of content will become incompatable with non-IE browsers. You can bet that rival browser makers will try to copy the technology.

    If you doubt this, ask yourself when the last time was you saw a useful animated GIF. Then bear in mind that, unlike animated GIFs, there's quite a bit of content out there in Flash/Shockwave form that people go out of their way to see. Why would the Mozilla, Opera, KHTML, etc, groups ignore the format?

  • by TedCheshireAcad ( 311748 ) < .ta. .det.> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:41PM (#7410750) Homepage
    feels weird to say this, but

    if it doesn't work on a mac it's not going anywhere.
  • by Daytura ( 672946 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:45PM (#7410805)
    "Flash ain't (unfortunatly) goin' anywhere."

    Sigh. Flash is not as bad is its reputation - it can do a lot of very cool stuff. Certainly beats cookies for preserving state. It just gets misused, mostly by marketing departments.

    That said, it *still* isn't searchable by robots or compliant with browser 'back' buttons. If Macromedia can't get that right over seven versions and ten years, what hope do MS have?
  • by Chicane-UK ( 455253 ) <chicane-uk.ntlworld@com> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:47PM (#7410821) Homepage
    So.. talking about a product that could possibly be released with Longhorn IF it debuts in 2006, and talking about it like Macromedia have just been read their last rights.

    3 years in the computing industry is an eternity. Thinking back to the year 2000, I was still using Windows 98, and had not long upgraded to a Slot-A Athlon 600MHz or something similar, and had just bought a brand spanking new Radeon 64MB DDR VIVO card.. most of that stuff is now obsolete, ESPECIALLY Windows 98!!

    Nothing like jumping the gun a little eh? And as ever with any Microsoft product, I won't hold my breath.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:52PM (#7410879)
    The flash player IS open source. ic ensing/sourcecode/form.html
  • by jas79 ( 196511 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:01PM (#7411008)
    I noticed this [] page in the longhorn sdk api
    It looked like a flash replacement and I guess I was right.
  • by muyuubyou ( 621373 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:03PM (#7411028)
    They will port it to OS X just like Office, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer... and leave linux / freeBSD / other Open Source OS's aside as usual.

    Then eventually they will cut support to Mac or make it substandard compared to the Windows version.

    Business as usual.
    And worse of it all - most people will probably swallow this as well. So sad people don't stand for anything anymore.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:04PM (#7411042) Homepage Journal
    I'm as annoyed by annoying Flash stuff as the next guy, but think for a minute what this means to the non-geek world -- yeah, you know, the people who we keep saying we want to see using Linux on the desktop.

    There's lots of Flash, and Linux runs it flawlessly. What happens if Sparkle starts to displace Flash as the weapon-of-choice for webmasters who think they can't get it all done with ordinary HTML? There are sites out there that require Flash. Yes, it's annoying, and yes, we'd prefer to see it done right. But will that ever-popular dude, Joe Sixpack, care? All he'll know is that his favorite website requires Sparkle, and there's no Sparkle for Linux or Mac, so he'll stick with Windows.

    Flash may be used in annoying ways but its availability on Linux is one of Linux's strengths as a desktop operating system.
  • by netringer ( 319831 ) <maaddr-slashdot&yahoo,com> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:06PM (#7411073) Journal
    . Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?" No. Stop generating FUD. Sheesh.
    Reminds me when the rumor was that Microsfot was going to come out with their own online service so AOL was doomed. The word was that Paul Allen sold his huige position in AOL right before the last board meeting. What does he know that we don't? Omigawd AOL is DOOMED!

    We know now how successful MSN was at putting AOL out of business, right? Not even after MS made clicking on abuot any button in new Windows install make you sign up for an MSN account.

    AOL IS doomed, but not because of MSN.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:14PM (#7411150)
    I may be wrong, but aren't Macromedia and Macrovision two totally different companies?
  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:14PM (#7411162)
    The problem is that people might bail out of Flash on just the press release alone

    Why? Did you trash your Macromedia Dreamweaver when you first read the press release on FrontPage? The problem is that Sparkle will have vastly different goals than Flash just like FrontPage had vastly different goals than Dreamweaver.

  • by ip_vjl ( 410654 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:22PM (#7411248) Homepage
    Every time something about Flash comes up, there is the same (invariably highly modded) complaint that it is useless and the web is so bad because of it.

    I will agree that a lot of crappy stuff has been done in Flash. There's also a lot of crappy books/webpages/slashdot posts that have been written, but I'm not about to propose getting rid of the alphabet so that it doesn't happen again.

    There are some things for which the interactive, vector-based, flash delivered materials are best. Something like technial illustrations on a website would be a perfect example, ones that can be cross linked and are zoomable. (if you did it in static files, you'd need to render a bunch of different resolutions. if you did it as PDF, you don't get the same interactivity)

    And whether you like it or not, a LOT of people learn better by smaller, bite sized bits of information, rather than by large text blocks that they need to plow through.

    There is also this idea that presentation is totally useless. For many things it isn't the foremost important thing, but if you totally dislike having content delivered to you with somebody else's presentation applied, you'd better:
    • stop listening to music - read it in sheet music form instead
    • turn the color down on your TV - don't let *them* force their colors on you
    • have somebody cut up your magazines into long strips of single words - *they* might be trying to influence you by the way the elements are positioned and juxtaposed on the page

    I don't care if it is flash or svg or whatever. The reason it popped up is because there are people who legitimately can use this technology. If you aren't one of them, fine. But don't assume that because you don't find it useful, then nobody should.
  • by temojen ( 678985 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:23PM (#7411257) Journal
    Incorporate SVG into the Mozilla trunk and add SMIL with support for mp3 and/or ogg vorbis. That'll be a real Flash killer.
  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:27PM (#7411305) Homepage Journal
    "They will port it to OS X just like Office, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer... and leave linux / freeBSD / other Open Source OS's aside as usual."

    They won't port anything until Linux starts showing up on millions of desktops, where there would be an audience feasibly large enough to sell software to.

  • by KAMiKAZOW ( 455500 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:36PM (#7411393)
    Huh? Every MP3 player (except iPod) supports Windows Media.
    Almost every DVD Player supports Windows Media.
    Windows Media is (together with Real Media) the most common format for streaming., yes.
  • by danigiri ( 310827 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:38PM (#7411427)
    Amazing idea!!! No wonder it has been thoroughly implemented [] before. Just exactly in the terms you describe...
  • hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GreenKiwi ( 221281 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:55PM (#7411644)
    How long before M$ breaks Macromedia Flash?

    "I'm sorry, the plug-in you tried to install is not compatible with this operating system's beleif that all programs must be made by Microsoft. Please try Sparkle instead."

    On a serios note, how is this not anti-competitive? I guess Macromedia can look for a nice payout once this has been implemented.
  • by kylef ( 196302 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @06:00PM (#7411693)

    Let me ask you this: does that mean any new feature added in Windows is now an anti-trust violation? Doesn't that seem a little harsh?

    Or perhaps you are just objecting to the fact that Macromedia already has similar capabilities. The problem is, just about any feature you add to an OS today has been done by someone before. Does that mean that the OS must be stagnant?

    It's not as though Macromedia has the patent on vector-based graphics...

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @06:23PM (#7411891) Journal
    This is another one of my long winded theoretical pieces so grab some popcorn and beer and sttle down for a read;)

    Firstly, the question must be asked of many things that MS is planning on including in Longhorn: Why are they doing this? Why are they adding in a Flash killing, Windows only Technology, and why are they adding an Office/Mail "security" feature that only works on Windows? The answer should be as obvious as the sky is blue: They want to kill off the competition. This should really, after all these years of bone crushing MS failures and successes in killing off alternatives, be blindingly obvious.

    The next question is whether it will succede. That is anyone's guess. I tend to look at the last few times MS has attempted to intoduce MS only technologies in the browser, such as VBScript (instead of the ECMAScript compatible JScript), ActiveX (which only ended up with providing plug-in developers extra work into porting to Mac and Mozilla) and others. There is a very good chance that Sparkle will just fall flat on it's face as the millions of Flash developers will not suddenly switch over to something that will only work in one browser, especially after those same developers spent fucking years getting all their html stuff to work in all browsers.

    On the other hand, Macromedia has a historical record of making catastrophically bad user interfaces for their products and has a knack of having good luck shots along with a host of bad decisions. They neglected Freehand for ages, for instance, only to have to rush like mad in a catch up game with Illustrator a couple of years down the road. Their latest product activation spree has irritated more than one developer.

    There is a final line to this: With both Adobe and Macromedia kissing Microsoft's backside and concentrating most of their efforts on Windows at the expense of the Macintosh, they might have done something that they will highly regret in the future when Microsoft tries to kill both of them off. They might then realise that never ending price rises and neglecting their original markets was a costly mistake.
  • by yetanothertechie ( 699283 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @06:34PM (#7411994)

    Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?

    I'm sick of people freaking out whenever Microsoft announces something. These are only ANNOUNCEMENTS - who knows whether there's anything behind them, what they'll eventually release, how good it will be, etc.

    Longhorn is years away, and yet every little piece of magic it will supposedly contain is breathlessly reported. How fortunate they are that all they have to do is say "We're going to do these magnificent things", and so many people jump right on it and assume it's true? As far as I can tell, whatever else happens in a couple of years Microsoft will still be the big boy on the block, will still release shitty, buggy software, will still be playing catch up to Apple on features, and will still be telling everyone how much better their lives will be when they buy yet another Microsoft upgrade.

    So settle down people.

  • by Bas_Wijnen ( 523957 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @07:34PM (#7412503)

    I've read some things about the registry, and I think I would consider it a good idea to have it distributed in multiple files. However, the statement says it will be distributed across the filesystem in multiple directories, not neccesarily in files (given their new "our filesystem is a database" idea).

    It wouldn't surprise me if this would mostly be meant to prevent copying it, so it will be very hard to copy your system to a new hard drive.

    But on the other hand, surely they will still be compatible with the old interface, so old programs can still run. And that means that all the weak points will stay right where they are.

    Anyway, I'm not wasting more time on this, it will not come out before 2006 anyway.

  • by js7a ( 579872 ) * <james.bovik@org> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:51PM (#7413106) Homepage Journal
    [IE for Solaris] doesn't use many libraries. I wonder if it would be possible to machine-translate it into x86-elf, and if it would then run on Linux. If the threading APIs match, I can't see why not....

    Translating between CPU architectures results in code much less efficient than the original. You have more registers on the RISC, and no way to know exactly which of them are meaningful at most points of the code, so you have to treat them all as if they all are. Plus, flag semantics are slightly different so you have to patch up the difference inside what you want to be really efficient inner loops (sucks cycles bigtime.) Things like the threading APIs will NOT match, because the registers are different, so you end up with speed similar to an emulation anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2003 @12:52AM (#7414557)
    Or it will be so integrated with the development environment that any old schmoe can do the easy stuff. Macromedia's software will still used by the hardcore professionals for a time, but the loss of marketshare will hurt. Innovation at Macromedia eventually stalls as they cut staff to try to stop the ship sinking. Microsoft pour resources on Sparkle making version 2 on par with Macromedia. Macromedia finally tanks or is bought out by Microsoft.

    Ok, that was a worst case scenario that was ignores the cross browser/platform market totally but is it impossible? Macromedia is going to have to stay on its toes for a while.
  • by KAMiKAZOW ( 455500 ) <> on Friday November 07, 2003 @03:56AM (#7415114)
    Yes, WM is just "the other format" in most cases, but WM is almost everywhere "the other format".
    Streamming: WM and Real. Where's MPEG4? Yes, there are also MPEG4-Streams, but compared to WM and Real, there are only a few MPEG4-Streams.

    DVD Players: WMA (sometimes even WMV) is often supported besides MPEG1/2. Compare that to the numbre of DVD Players that support MPEG4 (AAC, DivX,...).

    And so on.

    See the difference? WM (WMA or WMV) is almost everywhere. WM didn't take over in a particular market. True, but WM is waayy stronger in the overall market than eg. MPEG4.

    Do I like that situation? No. Is it reality? Yes.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.