In a previous post on Microsoft's Rich Internet Application strategy I talked about the five pillars of the Microsoft platform: Windows, Office, the Web, Devices, and Digital Home/Entertainment (such as Windows Media Center applications, XBOX games). But Parimal gave me a lot more information than that, so I wanted to follow up with a bit more detail. As I mentioned, within those pillars there are different technologies and tools that allow developers and designers to take advantage of the platform while running under one of the pillars.
Under the web, Parimal described the "differentiated browser experience for the Windows/IE platform" which used Microsoft's WPF XBAP; "differentiated ubiquitous experiences for X-platform, X-browser, device scenarios" which used "WPF/E;" and the "standards based web experiences" which developers/designers could tap into by using Microsoft's "Atlas" project.
The Web pillar gives developers a chance to use Visual Studio for their "Atlas" and WPF development as well as the Expression Suite (when it is released) to create very powerful interfaces.
When you are working with Windows smart clients, there is the enterprise environment and the consumer environment. For the enterprise windows development, Microsoft will continue to support Windows Forms, but they are going to make sure that there is interoperability between WinForms and WPF, which allows enterprise/line of business scenarios to leverage the functionality of WPF such as interactive data visualization. This can be accomplished by hosting WPF controls in your WinForms applications. For developers creating differentiated/consumer facing Windows smart client applications, WPF will be the technology of choice.
For devices, it's again WPF/E because WPF/E is Microsoft's X-platform, X-browser, devices platform. "WPF/E" will allow developers and designers to create engaging, branded experiences in "reach scenarios".
For office, Microsoft offers Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO).
5) DIGITAL HOME/ENTERTAINMENT
Finally in the entertainment/gaming pillar, Microsoft is continuing to push its DirectX standard and Windows Media Center technologies, which anyone who has played a video game should be familiar with.
This is all about the platform, it is about who can get their platform to the most developers and in the most places. Google is a fantastic company, but they need a platform to build on. Thus far, they've been able to use the web as a platform, and it has worked out quite well. But there is more to the internet than the web, and companies like Adobe and Microsoft are trying to get their platforms in every conceivable corner of the web. For Microsoft, this depends very heavily on their properties, which makes good business sense. For Adobe, the idea is to be as open as possible with their platform and let developers do whatever they want. I think there is room for both, but ultimately the developers and consumers will decide what is most important.