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Adobe and Microsoft having creative differences? Part 3: the lines are drawn

an image of the Adobe and Microsoft logosWhat with Microsoft looking to satiate their shareholders with yet more growth, they now look to unseat Adobe and take their creative crown. If this is to be the next battle ground in the computer software industry, then with the board set and the pieces in place, let battle commence.

In the first installment, I looked at the history of Adobe Flash and the factors that prompted the buy-out of Macromedia by Adobe.

In the second installment, I looked at the clash of formats and how standards pave the way for many things, including market share growth.

So far, Microsoft has been making most of the moves. What with their Mono format which hopes to challenge Adobe’s PDF format, and then more recently their announcement to release: “Expression, a family of professional tools for the design and production of enhanced user experiences and rich content for the Web and Windows Vista™ platform”. Adobe had yet to make a move .. until now, that is.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Adobe was drawn into a response and fired a shot across the bow of the good ship Microsoft:

Adobe and Mozilla Foundation to Open Source Flash Player Scripting Engine
Unifies Modern Scripting Across Firefox and Flash and Advances Innovation on the Web

WEB 2.0, SAN FRANCISCO – Nov. 7, 2006 – Adobe Systems Incorporated and the Mozilla Foundation, a public-benefit organization dedicated to promoting choice and innovation on the Internet, today announced that Adobe has contributed source code for the ActionScript™ Virtual Machine, the powerful standards-based scripting language engine in Adobe® Flash® Player, to the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla will host a new open source project, called Tamarin, to accelerate the development of this standards-based approach for creating rich and engaging Web applications.”

Most commentators seem to have missed this press release and not picked up on its significance. However, let me be clear: this is a huge announcement.

By buddying up with Mozilla, Adobe has made a very, very unambiguous statement to Microsoft: we do not value your web browser as much as we value the web software made from the Mozilla open-source software project.

What’s worth mentioning is that Adobe’s ActionScript (which is the lightweight language used by Flash to allow developers to produce highly interactive web applications) is basically a customized version of the ECMAScript, which is the more prosaic Moniker for JavaScript.

In addition, the various web applications that make use of the Mozilla open-source software project are many. What with Firefox, Thunderbird, Flock and Camino to name the ones I know of, Adobe has made a very significant ally in the Mozilla Foundation.

Also, the flagship application which has cast the greatest amount of favorable light on the Mozilla Foundation is Firefox, which just happens to be the web browser that can.

Right now, Firefox is eating into the market share of Microsoft’s own web browser, Internet Explorer. So for Adobe to hitch a ride with Mozilla is a big, big thing indeed.

I’d go as far as saying it’s a shrewd move, one with a clearly double-edged agenda. So it’s a shrewd move, albeit one sure to antagonize all at Redmond, Washington.

How does this end?

I’m not sure there is an end game here.

If anything, after considering what Apple has achieved with their iLife software, how you choose to define what is ‘creative’ can lead you in all kinds of directions, most of which aren’t quite as intimidating as learning the likes of Adobe Illustrator, Flash, GoLive et al, or Microsoft’s soon-to-be-released Expression range of software.

Now there’s a name to drop! Almost forgot about them for a while, there.

Apple. Where did they get to, I wonder? And, how do they fit into this little curio of war?

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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