Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Adobe's Flash Player 10 Takes on Microsoft's Silverlight 2

Just weeks after releasing the beta version of its Flash Player 10, code-named Astro, Adobe Systems this week released the final version for Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers. Flash Player 10 comes with a slew of new features and goes head-to-head with Microsoft's Silverlight 2, which was also released this week.

The multimedia products are competing head-to-head. Adobe has the lion's share of the market, but adoption of Microsoft's Silverlight has ramped up since it launched a year ago with 150 partners, including NBCOlympics.com, Blockbuster, Yahoo Japan and AOL.

Silverlight features content protection, deep zoom, a compatible subset of Microsoft's .Net framework, and built-in controls. Silverlight also supports several programming languages, including JavaScript, Visual Basic, C# and IronPython.

"We launched Silverlight just over a year ago, and already one in four consumers worldwide have access to a computer with Silverlight already installed," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president at Microsoft.

New Text Engine

Studio MovieBox Ultimate

Adobe's new Flash Player includes new 3-D effects, custom filters and effects, enhanced sound through audio mixing, and improved visual performance, including faster and smoother videos. The company said it has used 25 years of experience to develop its new text engine, which gives designers and developers more text-layout options and better control.

"Designers and developers know if they deliver video, online games, rich Internet applications, and other interactive experiences using Adobe Flash Player, they can reliably reach the entire Web," said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the platform business unit at Adobe.

After releasing the beta version to developers, Adobe found some issues and has created fixes.

For example, in Linux, Flash Player 10 supported only browsers supported by each specific distribution of Linux. At the time the product was written, Firefox 3 was not supported by Ubuntu 7.

Another problem was with the 3-D effects. Components were not working properly, and objects were not being sent correctly to PDF files or printers.

Other problems included dynamic streaming. Adobe plans to release Adobe Flash Media Server in the future, which will be required to use dynamic streaming. The same is true for other features, including Real Time Media Flow Protocol and Speex for speech.

Quick Fixes

Adobe made several quick fixes before releasing the final version. Linux camera issues have been fixed, full-screen optimizations have been made, vector printing on Macs now works, and video-playback issues on PPC Macs have been resolved.

Another Adobe fix was for video-camera support. Flash Player 10 includes native support for cameras conforming to the Video4Linux v2 API, according to Adobe's Mike Melanson, who writes about the fix in his blog.

"Flash Player content reaches over 98 percent of Internet-enabled desktops, and more than 80 percent of online videos worldwide are viewed using Adobe Flash technology, making Flash the number-one format for video on the Web," said Tom Barclay, senior vice president of product development for Adobe. "We think the new features in Flash Player will change the look of the Web in under a year."

"In the last year, Adobe has increased its worldwide share of video on the web from 66 percent to 80 percent and MSFT Windows Media/Silverlight has dropped from 24 percent to 13 percent," Barclay added. "This is both because Flash is making video more important on the Web and because sites are transitioning to Flash from other technologies."

No comments: