MS, Adobe war in blogosphere

Arch-rivals Microsoft and Adobe's struggle over next-generation Web development technologies has spilled into the companies' official blogs, with mud being flung from both sides. "I will be talking about Microsoft more and more in the following year.

Arch-rivals Microsoft and Adobe's struggle over next-generation Web development technologies has spilled into the companies' official blogs, with mud being flung from both sides.

"I will be talking about Microsoft more and more in the following year. They really haven't changed a bit and are up to the same old platform lock-in tricks with their new technologies," wrote Adobe's Ted Patrick on his company blog last week.

The San Francisco-based executive is an evangelist focusing on Adobe's Flex Web application development software, in addition to related offerings such as the Apollo project.

Apollo is a next-generation runtime environment that Adobe says allows developers to leverage Web development techniques to build rich desktop applications.

Patrick took Microsoft to task for its new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) software, which he sees as a technology designed to force end-users to adopt Microsoft's new Vista operating system.

WPF is part of version 3.0 of Microsoft's .NET programming framework -- the one included in Vista. It mainly deals with user and graphical interface controls.

The comments quickly drew fire from Microsoft's Scott Barnes, a Brisbane-based evangelist who focuses on promoting Microsoft's WPF and Expression technologies, seen as rivalling Flex and Apollo in some ways.

Expression is Microsoft's family of professional tools for Web design.

Barnes only joined Microsoft in December last year, coming to the company with a background in development using Adobe's products.

"Flex and Apollo sound really great on paper, but it's the details that they come up short on," Barnes commented on Patrick's blog.

The executive went on to criticise specific details of Apollo, for example its ability to interface with databases. He also criticised Adobe's Flash platform that it acquired when it purchased Macromedia.

"For years, the skinning capabilities for Flash have always been a consistent bane and pain point for developers and designers (put aside the constant flip flopping over framework strategies, the inconsistent properties on most classes and behaviour to match)," Barnes wrote.

However several members of the Adobe community did not react well to Barnes' comments, questioning his independence on the matter.

"Scott, be honest, you sold out to Microsoft (full-time employee) so you can comment spam blogs in the Adobe marketplace for a living," wrote Adobe's Patrick on his blog in reaction to Barnes' comments on Adobe's products.

"Sorry, but a month ago you loved Flex and suddenly when you get a new position at Microsoft, Flex is 'not good enough'?"

A grand plan?
Although a Microsoft Australia spokesperson told ZDNet Australia via e-mail this morning that there "was no formal policy" for the company's evangelists to engage in online dialogue with competitors, "it happens from time to time".

"Microsoft evangelists have a wide variety of contacts with customers, developers and sometimes competitors -- occasionally online and other times in real time. By its very nature, an evangelist's role means they must be engaged with the market and developers to promote and garner feedback on Microsoft's products," the spokesperson said.

But there are some indications that Barnes came to his position looking to take a somewhat antagonistic attitude with Microsoft's competitors.

In a 19 January post on his official Microsoft blog, Barnes said he "picked a fight" with Patrick.

"In my interview process with Microsoft, I was given a dummy scenario with [Microsoft evangelist Charles Sterling] on how I would evangelise the Microsoft product offerings to anyone in Australia," Barnes wrote.

"My answer was simple ... I'd find the most vocal person who hates us, and pick a fight, and I would do so knowing I would lose."

Barnes removed the blog post soon after it was published, but reinstated it late last week.

The Microsoft spokesperson said Barnes had originally deleted his post after a number of comments posted in reaction concerned him. "After consideration, Scott decided to report the blog in its entirety to ensure there was absolute transparency in the exchange," they said.

The spokesperson declined to comment on Adobe's products but said Microsoft believed competition was a good thing for customers and the IT "ecosystem" itself.

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