Earlier it was expected by Industry pundits that Sun in their JavaOne conference this week, Sun and Adobe will announce a version of Flash with Java Runtime to combat Microsoft’s Silverlight. But Instead Sun has gone alone with their announcement of JavaFx which promises to give a Scripting Runtime, access to Java VM, 2D Graphics and more.

Adobe with its Flash, Flex and Apollo is clearly the incumbent with over 98% of installed base of Flash runtime. For Microsoft Silverlight is a huge step forward in this space and they have the advantage of bringing on board day 1 – millions of existing .NET Developers to Silverlight. Sun looks more as a late comer to the party. I am yet to study in detail on JavaFx – so I will hold on from making any technical comparisons at this stage.

If you look historically, what is happening now is clearly a re-run of the Browser Wars (to be precise Browser Based Applications war) between Microsoft with ActiveX and Sun with Java Applets. In the first round Java Applets got a slight majority, but Sun as a company didn’t cash on it. Sun and Netscape let Microsoft eat from their hands royally. Browser Based Apps

What was interesting was what happened later – Adobe (Macromedia) who never were in the platform business suddenly in the early 2000s became a dominant force with the ubiquitous of their Flash Player. Thanks to Microsoft who bundled Flash Runtime (probably without realizing how much reach it will have later) with every Windows/IE installation and there-by making Flash the de-facto plug-in. In the last few years, YouTube’s of the world made Flash, a great Media Platform. Now Adobe wants to build on this huge advantage of Flash with Apollo and there-by make the Operating System (Windows) irrelevant – let us wait and see. Read here on what Bruce Chizen, CEO of Adobe has got to say on Microsoft’s Silverlight. Interesting days ahead …

Another entrant gaining ground in last few years is the camp of Web 2.0/Ajax with Google Map’s and SalesForce’s of the world trying to build everything with HTML/JavaScript. I have my doubts on the scalability of these Ajax solutions for serious business applications – even for simple effects the amount of lines of JavaScript and CSS you have to write is mind-boggling.

When I was writing this I was reminded of a presentation I made in 1997 titled “Building Browser based Applications (PPT)“. Worth checking it out.
(The presentation is given as last edited on 22/11/1997 – My contacts and company logo are all out-dated)

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