Adobe Ships Flex 3; Microsoft Shines Light on Silverlight 2

Things are heating up in the run-up to NAB, as Adobe completes the trilogy of Flash, Flex 3, and AIR , while Microsoft talks about what’s in Silverlight 2For Adobe and Microsoft, the race to combine the desktop and the web into a seamless model of applications that span the desktop and the globe is heating up.

Adobe on Monday released Flex Builder 3 for Windows, Linux, and Mac, hoping to land a one-two punch that combines rich media and streaming video/audio with a desktop programming language, based on Flash’s ActionScript 3, that effectively allows Flash content to be used on the desktop.

While Macromedia had the Projector as an application to show self-contained SWF files, Adobe’s model kicks it up a notch with the Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), a desktop-based platform that allows ActionScript 3 or Flex 3 content to be moved from the web to the desktop with no modification.

This, of course, puts Adobe in the desktop application business. Adobe execs see AIR as a way to leverage a legion of developers who have cut their teeth on rich internet applications (RIAs) that include database integration and significant dynamic data hooks, but don’t have C/C++ programming skills to turn these net apps into desktop apps. It also puts Adobe squarely in line for a pitched battle for control of any desktop, as some see Flex/AIR as a way for Adobe to jumpstart the next generation of applications, regardless of where they’re used. Want to use them on the desktop? Use AIR. Want to use them on the web? Use Flash. Want to use them on a mobile device? Use Flash Lite 3, which can now handle several video codecs with no bandwidth constraints, as well as any Flash or Flex interactivity you want to throw at it.

Adobe’s move into AIR is a risky gamble, as current developer thinking revolves around an intentional disconnecting of web and desktop apps, based primarily on security and intermittent connectivity issues.

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