Scoble on the Microsoft/Adobe showdown

Scoble on the Microsoft/Adobe showdown

Summary: So Robert is talking about "the designer/developer deathmatch" (notice I switched the order) and the fact that Microsoft and Adobe are on a crash course towards each other. John Dowdell isn't convinced, but I think Scoble's absolutely right on this one.


So Robert is talking about "the designer/developer deathmatch" (notice I switched the order) and the fact that Microsoft and Adobe are on a crash course towards each other. John Dowdell isn't convinced, but I think Scoble's absolutely right on this one. What's interesting is I don't even think Scoble got to check out the stronger developer offerings that Adobe is pushing.

I think this is fascinating, and I think from a Rich Internet Application standpoint everyone wins as Microsoft and Adobe try and one up each other. Scoble plays up the designer vs. developer angle, and I think that's correct. I've talked before about the fact that the company who enables seamless collaboration between developers and designers will win. I think Adobe has a head start, but Microsoft is thinking about the problem and they're putting up a fight.

The battle comes down to platforms. Microsoft (basically) gives away the tools and sells the platform (Windows). They've invested a ton of money to make sure that people use their platform for everything. They've been accused of locking people in and not playing by the rules. Adobe on the other hand is a tools company. They make their money on tools like Creative Suite and Studio while giving away the platform, Flash. So which model will developers and designers be drawn to?

I think Adobe has an almost insurmountable lead with designers. The time invested in learning Adobe tools is gargantuan, and it will be tough for Microsoft to pry them away, even if they're giving the tools away for free. Developers on the other hand, I don't think take Adobe seriously. That's beginning to change as the perception of Flash changes, but Adobe has a long way to go. Can Microsoft circle the wagons around its developers and build a great solution for developer-designer collaboration? Perhaps. This will be an interesting game to watch.

Topic: Software Development

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Devs vs Designers

    But as you've said before on your blog ActionScript and the Flash runtime will never compete with the .NET framework. It's going to be easier to move the designers to new tools than to circumvent the limitations of a runtime platform. Java has been trying this for years and failing on the desktop. The only real chance Flex has is to integrate with an established cross platform VM community (i.e. Java).
    • RE: Devs vs Designers

      Depends on what it means to compete. If web applications become the norm, ActionScript is pretty well positioned, but in the foreseeable future, you're right, .NET has a good, solid developer community.

      I don't know however if it will be easier to move designers to new tools. They have much more emotional attachment to the tools I think :). Devs think about it more analytically.

      I like the Flex/Java point - and I think they're trying to do that. I'm not sure how successful it will be, but they're making a push. Thanks Joe!
  • Ya know...

    It's getting to the point where companies like Adobe, Google, security software makers etc. will have to make their own OS just to stop Microsoft from messing with them all the time or trying to cut in on their business.

    Imagine if those major companies collaborated on an OS to compete with MS? That could be interesting. Especially if it was Linux ;)
    • RE: Ya know...

      Now THAT is an interesting idea. I've always thought that Adobe could make a splash on Linux, but they may have to open up quite a bit (and I'm not sure they can do that). But with some kind of Google/Adobe partnership, that might be more possible :). Thanks for bringing that up WebThingy.
  • Is the Adobe "platform" really free?

    As usual some great insights there and, as usual, I agree 100%.

    However if you look at Adobe's licensing for FDS and FMS you could argue that the cost of the development tools (Flex Builder, Flash8 respectively) is low and the cost of the "deployment platform" is much higher. The Flash Player is Adobe's only "deployment platform". FDS and FMS are deployment platforms too and the cost of the runtime licenses for these products is comparible to the cost of runtime licenses for Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005.

    From a developer's perpective, Adobe's may be more of a "platform" company that we might think.

    In my view the big piece that's missing in Adobe's offering for developers is the lack of the equivalent of MSDN. There is a "ADN" but it's only for LiveCycle.
    • RE: Is the Adobe "platform" really free?

      Kautsky, two great points. First, you're right about FDS and FMS. Frankly, I think Adobe has gone about that market wrong. I know they are selling a lot of FDS licenses to big companies, and that it's been successful as a product. A lot of people have told me that once you get into FDS, it's worth the price. I haven't reached that point, but I'm willing to plead ignorance and a lack of understanding about everything FDS does.

      As for your MSDN comment, you are absolutely right. And it's one example of where they are so far behind Microsoft in the developer community. I think there are initiatives within the company to fix this, but they have a long way to go.

      Great stuff, thanks for the comments.
      • FDS

        Just for the record - entry level FDS is free (I think that's defined as a single CPU per server). More than enought to get started.

  • Designers.

    "I think Adobe has an almost insurmountable lead with designers. The time invested in learning Adobe tools is gargantuan, and it will be tough for Microsoft to pry them away, even if they're giving the tools away for free."

    So because Adobe tools are very hard to learn, people who have worked like Druids will not use something (presumably) easier and free.

    Is it actually the hardship of learning the tools that should maintain the loyalty of designers?
    Anton Philidor
    • RE: Designers.

      Interesting take, and I should have been more clear. I think of good design tools as a chess game - easy to learn, difficult to master. You can go in and use Photoshop pretty easily, but it's the years and years invested in finding the intricacies of the program that makes designers reluctant to switch.

      But will they use something easier and free? Sure, if that exists. I don't know that you can give them a robust design suite that is both easy and free, but if it happens, that's great for designers. If Microsoft does it, they'll make a big splash.
      • Knowing the tools.

        Photoshop seems to have more hidden features (or, as you stated, "... the intricacies of the program ...") than Office.

        Microsoft changed the Office interface after polling people about what features they would most appreciate and discovering that about 80% of the responses were already present.

        Do you think Adobe will ever make a similar effort? Or, as sometimes happens, do you think that Photoshop users would be disappointed if the program became too simple to use.

        I appreciate your chess analogy. The rules can be learned in an hour, even the more complex ones like castling and en passant captures, but combining these simple elements well can take years of practice and thought.

        I like simple tools which, like chess, have the flexibility to create complex results by a series of steps. Building complexity into the tool can lead to unnecessary difficulty.

        Anton Philidor
        • Those who use them professionally know them

          Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, etc are directed at the professional graphics market. Those who use them professionally find them quite clear and straightforward.

          One thing that distinguishes them is that the output, unless botched up by the user, is always of press quality - something that cheaper apps often fail at (MS Publisher being an example).

          Many people who don't work in the field always refer to Photoshop as THE design app. In fact, it's rarely used by professionals for anything other than pure raster elements in a design. Most professionals use vector apps, like Ilustrator, for design as much as possible so as to avoid any resolution difficulties when reducing or blowing up the work. An example is corporate logos, usually preserved as eps with outlined fonts. It can be blown up for a billboard or reduced for letterhead - both with no loss of clarity/crispness - impossible in a raster.
          • Expanding the market.

            Adobe is probably hoping for sales of Photoshop in particular outside its established market.

            It is possible to create a different product with a new name. But the Photoshop brand is advantageous.

            Non-professional users frequently don't dig very far into applications and consider difficulties the fault of the program rather than deciding they need more training.

            So I'm wondering what would happen if Adobe issued a product called Photoshop in which the interface was changed to improve non-professional ease of use, an effort reminiscent of Microsoft's work with Office 2007.

            I think there's a chance professionals would complain about the reduced intricacy even if the functionality were unchanged or improved. Pride of mastery.

            Think that's likely?
            Anton Philidor
      • Easy? Free?

        "But will they use something easier and free?"

        Well, yes, of course they will....but what are you referring to? A M.S. product? Where do people get this "MS is free" mentality? IE is free, IIS is free, but just about everything else you pay for - and pay alot (yes, even windows you pay for, in the cost of the computer).

        Let's stop trying to analyze the "design" market as developers. We have a different train of thought. Designers mostly have an art background, we have a math one.

        • RE: Easy? Free?

          [i]"But will they use something easier and free?"[/i]

          That was one of the dumbest things I have ever said. Oye.

          But to your point, I don't think designers care if it's free or easier, they like what they know. I'd be very interested to get a designers take on this. Maybe I can do that sometime.
          • RE: Easy? Free?

            LOL. Slip of the tongue!
  • Barking up the wrong tree

    They shouldn't be overly concerned with Dreamweaver, especially when they compare it with Visual Studio. If i where in their shoes, I would be a lot more concerned about the eclipse ecosystem which provides compelling reasons to stay within one environment. And as far as I'm aware, there's no .net functionality in eclipse..... So what will these developers use when asked to build a web application......
  • Message has been deleted.