Wharton tracking the future of software

Knowledge@Wharton, the newsletter of the Wharton School posted a few articles covering Supernova, the conference they co-hosted in San Francisco late last month. The articles are important to anyone following Rich Internet Applications and I wanted to discuss some of the content here on ZDNet.

Knowledge@Wharton, the newsletter of the Wharton School posted a few articles covering Supernova, the conference they co-hosted in San Francisco late last month. The articles are important to anyone following Rich Internet Applications and I wanted to discuss some of the content here on ZDNet.

Our core effort is to make sure things do run consistently across operating systems and devices. And our runtimes are distributed for free.One thing the articles do a good job of is showing the issues that we're all facing outside of the technology. The battle between technology and how best to use it has gone back centuries, and as new technology appears, we often find ourselves in the moral quandary of figuring out the "safest" way or the "best" way to adopt it. The technologies behind RIAs are no different. Powerful applications are being delivered over the web, and issues like privacy and security should be at the forefront of the discussion. I hope to dedicate a lot of real estate here over the course of the next few months talking about my thoughts, and highlighting others thoughts from the community.

The most interesting article for me was an interview with Kevin Lynch, Chief Software Architect at Adobe, that sheds a bit more light on Adobe's goals for Flash and software in general. There are some things that stand out from the interview. One is that Kevin talks about Adobe's role as both "developer enabler" and software solution company:

[Adobe's] Breeze [web conferencing software] is an example of an application that Adobe makes that runs on the Engagement Platform; it runs on the Flash Player. So, we'll make some of those ourselves. But I think -- just like the web today -- there will be thousands and thousands of different applications built by designers and developers all over the world, [both] inside companies and individually.

Kevin implies that Adobe will continue to provide solutions for building web applications but does concede that they will continue to sell the actual solutions themselves. I think this could be a big source of growth for Adobe if they do it correctly.

One thing that strikes me is that Kevin dismisses Microsoft a little bit:

Now, there's an aspect of WPF called WPF/E [Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere], which is [Microsoft's] intention to bring WPF to other platforms. It is not available yet. And, historically, Microsoft has not done a good job at crossing platforms with technologies. Or, when they have, they have not sustained that effort.

He goes on to cite IE on Mac and Windows Media for OS X as examples. To me, this shows two things, one is that Adobe is very, very comfortable with how they are competitively placed against Microsoft. By taking a stab at the desktop, Adobe has everything to gain and very little to lose. Competitively, this is a great place to be. Two, they see Microsoft losing interest in this particular battle, which I don't buy. While Adobe may have everything to gain with nothing to lose, if you awaken the sleeping dragon that is Microsoft, it's a very different playing field. With Ozzie in charge, Microsoft is reevaluating what is important, and the web, RIAs, and the designer/developer are looking very important. Things get more interesting every day.

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