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Microsoft and Adobe jockey on rich applications

IE 8 hoves into view

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Adobe Systems and Microsoft are jockeying for attention with pronouncements on new and planned software for the development of online content, applications and hybrid desktop applications.

Adobe on Monday released the highly anticipated first version of its Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR) with tools for programmers building applications that run inside the browser and that integrate with the desktop in key areas such as reading and writing data and accessing data storage. Also launched was Flex 3, Adobe's updated open-source platform for building Rich Internet Applications (RIAs) that uses an Eclipse-based plug-in.

AIR features a runtime and software developer kit (SDK) for those who like working with text editors to build HTML-, AJAX-, PDF- and Flash-based software, and it uses SQL Lite as a fast, local database manager. Flex 3 Builder, the Flex development environment, now integrates with Adobe's Creative Suite 3 for application developers and content designers to work together on the design and coding of content.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft apparently leaked word that it's nearing a first beta for Internet Explorer 8. An email purporting to be from the IE team posed to ActiveWin has called for developers to sign-up for testing of this eagerly-awaited update to the standards basket case that is IE. The official IE web site has made no mention of a beta, although it pegs the final IE 8 release date at "first-half" of 2008.

Microsoft also tried to overshadow Adobe's AIR and Flex release by talking up the capabilities in the forthcoming beta of Silverlight 2.0, Microsoft's cross-browser plug-in that targets developers and content designers building online media content, such as video. Like Adobe with Flex, Microsoft is also attempting to close the gap in tools and workflows that has separated the design and creation of content. The first beta is expected at Microsoft's Mix 08 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Scott Guthrie, a general manager in Microsoft's developer division, blogged ahead of Adobe's AIR and Flex news that Silverlight 2 would feature a cross-platform version of its .NET Framework and let developers program Silverlight content using any .NET language.

Silverlight 2.0 will fine-tune data access capabilities with the ability to utilize Microsoft's Language Integrated Query (LINQ) architecture through LINQ-to-XML library support for transformation and querying of data. LINQ is being rolled out in Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008, due for official launch Wednesday in Los Angeles, California.

Additionally, Visual Studio 2008 and Expression Studio, Microsoft's fledgling creative suite, will see an additional focus on workflows for developers and designers working together on media content.

Silverlight 1.0 for Windows and Mac shipped last September with the Silverlight 2.0 beta one expected "shortly" according to Guthrie.®

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