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Friday, September 16th, 2005, 4:43 am

Microsoft Poised to Eradicate Flash

SEVERAL months ago I read about a Macromedia (now acquired by Adobe) manager who was very much afraid from a Microsoft response to Flash. A response as such was the only thing that kept him awake at night.

The Windows maker is now releasing Sparkle, which is a Flash equivalent, striving to become a ‘Flash Killer’. While there are many people who would be glad to see Flash die1, they would not like to see a replacement, especially not one which suffers from poor cross-platform compatibility.

SparkleMy guesstimate is that Microsoft will stick to their aggressive nature in order to penetrate the market, nudging Flash aside in the process. With control over so many computers, they will be able to manipulate user preferences, exploiting an existing monopoly. Does anyone still remember Lotus? It is only one among dozens of examples. Moreover, having faced proprietary formats like wma and wmv (audio and video respectively), I know that they aim to maim competing platforms (as a side-effect perhaps). Tools that promote such formats are provided by default along with bundled software for Windows users. It is common knowledge that tools which get bundled with the operating system promote proliferation by serendipity.

What are the implications to those who snub Flash already? Some of us will not need to block not only Flash, but also Sparkle, which means a bloat in terms of plug-ins. It is worrying that a Flash equivalent will soon be bound to a vendor of a platform. Very scary it must seem that the target for Sparkle output is the open Web. That is when media serves as a promotion for the operating system while crippling the opposition. I, for one, fear such technologies.

As regards unoriginality of the name, would it not be similar to renaming their Web browser Firedog? The words flash and sparkle are almost analogous (Macromedia Fireworks comes to mind too). This is by no means the first time Microsoft are copying names, slogans, or graphics.

Related item: Microsoft to Fight PDF’s

1 Along the lines of “Flash is evil”; confer Jakob Nielson, a Web usability authoritative figure.

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