An excerpt from a snapshot of themes at a recent Mashup Camp event (see the full post for more details):
The battle for the Web is forming between Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, on the one hand, and OpenAjax on the other. The topic came up during a panel discussion on "Why Ajax Standards Matter," which didn't sound too promising going in. Things started getting really interesting when Christopher Keene, CEO of WaveMaker Software, warned, "there's a struggle for the soul of the Web," where rich Internet and Web application development is concerned, and "proprietary engines like Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight are coming on strong."
I expect we’ll see a lot of debate in this context over the next couple years, but it’s important to consider a few related facts:
1. AJAX, Flash, and Silverlight are obviously not mutually exclusive. While Adobe sometimes seems a bit obsessed with AIR app scenarios, most Flash and Silverlight apps are browser-based, and integrate with rather than displacing AJAX user experiences.
2. Adobe and Microsoft are – by a very wide margin – the leading AJAX tool/platform/service vendors; anyone who thinks either Adobe or Microsoft is out to somehow subvert or privatize the open ecosystem of the Internet isn’t looking at the bigger picture.
3. While OpenAjax advocates may have lofty aspirations, and while the OpenAjax membership list is impressive, I get the distinct sense OpenAjax started (see “how it was born” on the About OpenAjax Alliance page) as an unsubtle attempt on the part of several vendors to have their models and technologies established as quasi-standards – perhaps in part because of the Internet momentum Adobe and Microsoft collectively represent. It is not clear to me, for example, why OpenAjax Alliance is needed if the W3C is still operating effectively.
So, netting it out, imho the debate should be focused more on how Adobe, Microsoft, and other vendors are helping to advance the Internet information model, as guided by the W3C and other standards groups; it’s definitely not a simple OpenAjax = good, Flash and Silverlight = evil dichotomy.