Anyone who has read my blog knows I have a pretty negative attitude towards browser based applications. With technologies like Flash and "WPF/E" we're able to create some great in-browser experiences, but there is still something lacking. But it's often difficult to get people to buy into the need for breaking beyond the browser. Apollo enables web-centric out of browser experiences and the buzz surrounding it show that people's interest has been piqued by being able to take their web apps to the desktop.
This blog post got me thinking about how Windows Presentation Foundation really is the next level, and while it's not cross platform, it provides the ability to create experiences that simply cannot exist in the browser. Apollo applications are enhanced browser apps, but WPF applications are an entirely different way to think about user interface and design. Because of that, WPF is in a position to turn heads and bring people around to realizing how much life is left in the desktop and why the browser is so limiting.
You could argue that WPF isn't an RIA technology. I know that some of the people working on WPF don't think of it that way, and for the most part, WPF is about building the next generation of Windows applications. All good points, but I think they miss the point. The web and the desktop are blurring. While broadband isn't everywhere, a computer that isn't connected to the web doesn't have a lot of use in today's world. As a result, almost every desktop application is web-centric. So it comes down to design and experience. That's what Apple has become so good at, and one of the things Rich Internet Applications are all about. RIAs bring together designers and developers to create applications and experiences that are beneficial to users. In that sense, WPF is a Rich Internet Application technology and with it's rich user interface options and 3D capabilities, it showcases a world that the browser can't match.
I hope WPF is a huge success. I would love to see WPF as a cross-platform solution, but at the moment, that isn't feasible. In the meantime, I hope that the designers and developers who work on WPF continue to build great experiences that can't be replicated anywhere else. It pushes us further and encourages others to follow. WPF is the best technology out there to show why great experiences are valuable and why those experiences belong on the desktop. The more people see real life examples, the more open they will be to the idea. That leads to more fun discussions and eventually, some major progress.