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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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  • Good thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CaptBubba ( 696284 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:20PM (#7410412)
    This could be a good thing. Maybe there won't be any linux compatibility so I won't be attacked by "Sparkle" ads when I browse the internet.

    Whatever ad designer got the great idea to use flash should be beaten with a clue bat. Thank goodness for the flash click to play plugin for firebird.

  • Open Flash source (Score:5, Interesting)

    by raddan ( 519638 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:22PM (#7410439)
    Perhaps this would be a good time for Macromedia to get as many flash players on as many platforms as possible. They should open the source.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:24PM (#7410494)
    Please folks try convince Macromedia that their only salvation from the Microsoft borg is to fully open source their Flash specs.
    Please make an open source , multi platform, components based player like Real is doing with Helix.
    I think that way they can survive, otherwise Microsoft will swallow them like other unwanted competitors.

    What do you think folks ?
    Any prediction of the Flash-future ?
  • by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:26PM (#7410522) Journal
    Saw a presentation yesterday by an MS techie wherein he explained that SQL-server, .Net, and IE are all being "integrated" into the OS (Oh, and the registry is going away. Former registry content will now be distributed across directories into a new file type). Now a Flash-a-like product as well.

    Nice to know that MS is paying strict attention to the anti-trust settlement conditions.
  • Re:Finally! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bingo Foo ( 179380 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:26PM (#7410527)
    XP -> eXPerience?


    XP -> $\chi \rho$ -> Cairo?
  • by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:39PM (#7410713)
    All things considered I think the killing off of the Registry is a far bigger story than a competitor of flash. This has been arguably overdue for many years, and long one of Microsofts OS weak points. Have you got a link for the registry story by chance?
  • Rich Media Anger (Score:5, Interesting)

    by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:39PM (#7410720) Homepage Journal
    It never fails, mention Flash here and you get a couple hundred posts bashing Flash as nothing more than an annoyance.

    What gives?

    Flash, believe it or not, provides a very good alternative to Java Applets for browser based GUI's. I've used it to create multi-user services and many a data-driven application.
    IMHO, it provides much better graphics support than Java and allows me to tie it into non-Java based services very handily.

    I got into web development because of Flash.
    Having worked for companies such as Atari and then a smattering of CD-ROM game companies in the early/mid 90's Flash allowed me to produce my work and even develop games without having to worry about physical distribution channels and allowed for all the interactivity I required.

    So for alll you who think flash is only used for annoying ads, well, why don't you switch to text based browsers instead? Because ads are still made as .gif and .jeg as well.

  • Flash? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:54PM (#7410913) Homepage
    Macromedia makes some decent tools, but....

    Can someone here point us towards a site currently using Flash where the end result is dazzingly worthwhile? Flash programmers are finally getting to the point of occassionally delivering a stylish advertising graphic - but I usually set my system not to show me those, because it's extremely rare that the content I'm after uses Flash at all.

    Could it be that

    - the functional concept of Flash is a bad one, so it doesn't matter if MS introduces something else with as little real worth as Flash?


    - the concept is right, and the lack of results is because Flash doesn't implement it well enough, so there's actually room for someone else (even MS) to produce a truly useful tool in this space?


    - we'd all be in a Flash Web now, except we're held back by those Luddites in cyberspace who still miss the original default gray NCSA page background?

    But really, a demonstration of Flash being useful - I still haven't seen it. It's concept is promising enough, but the results ... bleh!
  • by roca ( 43122 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @04:58PM (#7410959) Homepage
    XAML is Microsoft's new do-it-all markup language that includes vector graphics and animation a la SVG (they even call the graphics subset "WVG"). You can read all about it in the Longhorn alpha developer docs. I suspect Sparkle is just the authoring toolset for the graphics.

    What's interesting is that XAML also includes markup for user interface elements (similar in intent to XUL), and general documents (similar to HTML). It also has a feature set called "fixed format" documents which seems clearly designed to supplant PDF.

    It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Microsoft ultimately plans to bury the W3C and make Web formats their proprietary property. They may as well just call it Bluebird 2006.
  • by ScurvyDawg ( 98220 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:12PM (#7411135) Homepage
    Wasn't Liquid Motion supposed to Kill Macromedia too. Nobody uses Microsofts Liquid Motion now because nobody needed it when they already had cross platform tools like flash.

  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:13PM (#7411142) Homepage Journal
    "one assumes that sparkle will be embedded into the OS"

    That would kick ass. It means that apps in Windows would have a vector based UI. This means that apps could be made resizable to any resolution up or down. If your 3D card does all the drawing work, bonus. Let the main CPU do important stuff.

  • by j3110 ( 193209 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:14PM (#7411159) Homepage
    It's not the web-designers, it's demanding ignorant clients that think it somehow helps their site for people to see stupid animations before they can actually get to the actual content they are looking for. I should know, I get cornered into making Flash and I just about refuse every time, but they don't give up, even after explaination of why it's not good for their site.

    The problem is that clients don't use the internet enough to imagine what it would be like if Google had a flash intro. The only popular sites with flash intros that are still popular are all-flash sites.
  • by Spl0it ( 541008 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:17PM (#7411199) Homepage
    I cannot see in any way how all the new 'integration' is even close to fair to competitors! There now building everything inside the OS, so basically your being forced to use there stuff no matter what. Macromedia should sue the pants off MS as soon as it can aquire enough information of new Anti-Trust movements which are directed at the market place and their own companies software Flash.
  • by dspeyer ( 531333 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:28PM (#7411309) Homepage Journal
    It's still around. Many Solaris workstations (and, therefore, their AFS servers) have iexplore on them, which claims to be version 5.

    The bizarre thing is that X forwarding allows it to run on my GNU/Linux desktop. It stands out like a sore thumb -- the hideousness hand-drawn icons clashing with gtk, qt and xul.

    It 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....

  • by nuonguy ( 264254 ) <> on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:28PM (#7411310)
    Sadly, selling your Macromedia stock right now might not be bad idea.

    I think the precedent for this is IE. Look at the zeitgeist to see how many browsers use google:

    Were the first few versions of IE better than Navigator? I don't remember it that way.

    Sure, Navigator got bloaty and buggy as time went on, but that was only part of the reason that IE dominates. I think a bigger contributor to Navigator's loss was that IE came free, and was 'bundled' with the OS. That's what's going to happen to sparkle. Everyone who pays the M$ tax will get it 'for free', it won't be 'uninstallable' and of course front page will use it and tons more web sites will work with only IE.

    Will Macromedia open-source flash? Or, will they decide to try and support whatever obfuscated and hidden API m$ will come up with?

  • by Ogerman ( 136333 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:36PM (#7411394)
    Once again, MS is trying to push aside real industry standards by creating their own proprietary ones.

    There is *already* a W3C replacement for the proprietary Flash format: Javascript + DOM + SVG

    The Mozilla and KHTML developers and others would be wise to put heavy emphasis on getting SVG support fully working ASAP.
  • Re:Finally! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KeyserDK ( 301544 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:37PM (#7411405) Homepage
    Try reading the windows 2000 boot screen
    It has a line that ends with "NT technology"
    "New technology technology" ?
  • by M$ Mole ( 158889 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:37PM (#7411416)
    Ugh, not all flash is stupid little animations!! Good lord. There are places where a Flash INTERFACE is far superior to an HTML/JavaScript/CSS interface.

    Flash is not just skipintros, and if you disagree, you've obviously had it turned off for far too long. Macromedia's current push is into the same space that Sun tried to get into with Java applets...except flash has a smaller footprint, and runs 1000 times faster than Java did in the browser...and the market is much more primed for such apps.

    Microsoft will not be able to kill Macromedia with this because Macromedia has been busying itself with aligning with companies like Sun and IBM to ingratiate itself with Java developers looking to deploy more robust interfaces for their applications over the web, but wanting something lighter than Java applets.

    This is a case of Microsoft being WAY behind the curve. Longhorn is 2 years out minimum...Flash is in version 7 (MX 2004), has the ability to connect to various application server frameworks (via Flash Remoting to .NET, J2EE, CF, and there are open source solutions for PHP), supports streaming media and data-push's a mature platform that has great potential.
  • by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:42PM (#7411472) Journal
    Is this the beginning of the end for Macromedia?
    LOL! I Can see it now. Imagine all those M$ drones drooling over this 'new' product and saying "Oh look! You can have scaleable vector graphics, a scripting language, an XML parser and unbelievably well compressed video on the Internet these days! Aren't Microsoft clever?"

    I seem to remember a big hoo-ha about SVG being the open standard that would kill Macromedia. Since Flash has been extended to do much more than just animations and banner ads, that idea has gone by the wayside. This is no different. Once again M$ are at the cow's tail of the internet.

    Moreover, the culture at M$ is just not conducive to making any headway in this market. I was at Macromedia's HQ in San Francisco the other night at a user group meeting, and the guy that was giving the presentation of Flash Professional 2004 summed it up beautifully. He said that the really cool things happen when artists and engineers collaborate properly. And that is what happens at Macromedia. "When was the last time anybody seriously used a Micro$oft image editing tool?" He asked. Everyone laughed, because M$ are crap at that sort of thing, although their technical stuff at the back end is supposedly okay (although I would dispute that.)

    Go to Adobe and you'll find great tools for the artist, but when it comes to technical stuff for the web then they're a bit challenged.

    Macromedia is a unique company that is full of renaissance people, people who are left brained and right brained. It has a good mix of engineers and artists, and that explains why their products are both slick and easy to use as well as being technical masterpieces.

    Personally, whilst I have my doubts about the future uptake of certain products like Central, I think it's safe to say that with excellent products like Flash, DreamWeaver, Fireworks and Contribute, Macromedia are going to be around for quite some time to come.

  • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @05:48PM (#7411554) Homepage Journal
    Can't speak for Apple, but one of the things Microsoft has in mind is UI support for LCD screens in the 300dpi range. The Register had a story about a year ago about Microsoft teaming with a place like Samsung to develop a large LCD screen that had a ridiculously high resolution. Something along the lines of 5,000 pixels wide.

    VERY excited about that. ;)
  • Re:Flash? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by deesine ( 722173 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @06:27PM (#7411921)
    But really, a demonstration of Flash being useful - I still haven't seen it. It's concept is promising enough, but the results ... bleh!"

    I'm not sure what you mean by "useful". I guess animations, movies, and games are not useful to you? No, Flash won't be used by Disney in their next animated feature film. No, the next rip roaring FPS won't be coded in ActionScript. But millions of people are watching millions of hours of animations and movies online created in Flash. Also, millions of $$ are being spent to buy and play games created in Flash. All those people using and working in Flash and I wonder how many of them stop themselves and ask, "Is this useful though?" Silly. So you don't use or work in Flash and either you're not aware of how much Flash content is out there OR you are aware but don't find any of it useful. Anthropologists try to figure out the "usefulness" of human endeavors, rating such endeavors as an agent of some cultural construct. Flash is useful to me, I get to create games and Web sites. And when I get my paycheck, I don't find myself wondering whether any of it was useful, just was it fun and does the client like/buy it.
  • by overunderunderdone ( 521462 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:32PM (#7412930)
    Not always, normally it comes down to what sort of computer the COMPANY buys the artists to use.

    But the thing is the COMPANY isn't some giant firm standardized on Windows. It is an Advertising and/or Design firm standardized on Macs. Any real design work is outsourced to designers and they use Macs. Sure most big companies have an in-house design shop to do their internal stuff, and some are perverse enough to condemn those poor suffering souls to use Wintel (probably make them wear ties too, or at best "business casual"), but you don't think that after treating them so cruelly they would trust them to do the company website do you? Believe me the flash animation splash page on your typical fortune 500 company's site was NOT done by a corporate drone in some cubicle wasteland. It was done by a guy with a nose ring working freelance out of his studio apartment - I assure you he was not using a PeeCee (and he was not wearing a tie).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 06, 2003 @08:45PM (#7413049)
    Always the same scheme:

    $Company sells a software primarily for Windows or for the Windows-user marketshare.

    $Company has success and it's products are widely adopted.

    Microsoft brings "some-new-product-with-X-in-name" that seems to be able to replace the old successful one.

    Microsoft uses strong arm tactics, OEM versions, deliberate standard breaking, deliberate "bugs" etc. to dismantle the competition.

    New Version of "MS-ProductX" is bundled with the next version of their operating system, incompatible with everything else and it will never be backported.

    Sheeple buy new PCs after a while, installbase grows automatically, developers make the shift to the "new" thing and the old one is abandoned.

    Old company goes bust or is bought by MS.

    Repeat until (SELECT FROM products WHERE developer!="Microsoft")==Null.

    Morale of the story:

    - Your product is going to be assimilated/killed if it is too popular. Everytime (see Google)

    - You can never win against Microsoft on their home (win32) turf.

    - They will stab you the first time you turn your back. Guaranteed.
  • That makes sense! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rspress ( 623984 ) on Thursday November 06, 2003 @10:42PM (#7413829) Homepage
    If M$ deploys this in longhorn and incorporates into to their web development tools then M$ will be another step closer to owning something they could not buy....the internet. They are already doing this for the most part. A lot of their web development tools are generating code and services that are Windows and IE only. Some content generated by these products are viewable on no other platform or browser other then what Microsoft puts out, for no other reason than they were created with MS products. What a way to control the net....want to view this page? Then buy Windows. Forget that the web was built on open standards, M$ will try to make it M$internet any way they can. Do you think that they will strive to make it run on other platforms like Macromedia has? Does Balmer have hair? This may sound like a conspiracy theory but have you tried to complain to the government about Microsofts compliance to the anti-trust lawsuit from the webpage MS has set up? If you are not running windows it can't be done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2003 @02:00AM (#7414800)
    When will people realize that its a waste of their time and money to develop any kind of app on the MS platform? As soon as it becomes popular, MS rolls their own version into the OS.

"It ain't over until it's over." -- Casey Stengel