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Adobe’s AIR War Can Now Proceed in Earnest

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Adobe’s AIR War Can Now Proceed in Earnest

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Adobe greased up Monday for its wrestling match with Microsoft over who gets to call the shots in the all-important rich Internet apps (RIA) department, that blurry future where web applications and desktop applications start looking and acting like each other.

It finally released its free, highly anticipated Adobe Integrated Runtime 1.0 (AIR) cross-platform software development system along with the Flex 3 open source development framework and BlazeDS technology, a link between Adobe-based applications and databases.

It was for this coming Armageddon that Microsoft created the Silverlight browser plug-in, and is about to roll out a beta Silverlight 2 that will let developers write RIAs for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari using .NET widgetry and any .NET language.

AIR, like Google Gears, is supposed to make web applications like Adobe’s recently acquired Buzzword word processor accessible independent of the Internet and give them the familiar facilities of the desktop like, say, drag-and-drop and local data storage.

The way it works developers use web technologies like HTML, AJAX, PDF, Adobe Flash and Flex to create RIAs on the desktop.

Since AIR is built to provide real cross platform capability, it allows the same application code to run on Windows and Macintosh. At its coming-out party, Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch demonstrated Air on Ubuntu running code from a Macintosh. Same code.

Adobe brought some friends along for the opening skirmish: eBay, AOL, Nasdaq, Yahoo, Salesforce.com, the New York Times, the American Cancer Society, Deutsche Bank and Nickelodeon have AIR apps.

eBay, for instance, has developed an AIR application meant to free bidders from the shackles of constantly watching the eBay site or their e-mail. The progress of the auction should simply be displayed on their desktop.

AIR and the AIR SDK are available now for download in English for Windows and the Macintosh. Adobe is still working on a Linux version. Flex 3 is out in English and Japanese. The Flex 3 SDK and a beta Flex Builder 3 for Linux are both free.

The Flex Builder 3, which is how Adobe proposes to make money, comes as a standalone product or an Eclipse plug-in, with a standard edition priced at $249 and a professional edition for $699.

Adobe also has a Media Player, now in beta, that it calls a fusion of TV and the Internet that will let user watch shows anywhere anytime. It’s built with Flex and deployed on AIR.

There are other players in this game. Besides Adobe, Microsoft and Google, Mozilla has its Prism, Sun its JavaFX.

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