So here you have it, another misconception finally cleared. According to Kevin Lynch, Adobe’s CTO, Microsoft Silverlight is more a competitor of Flash than AIR, Adobe’s desktop runtime for web applications.
As competition goes, interestingly, Lynch sees the Mozilla’s Prism project a much more able candidate. At the cocktail hours at the Adobe event, I had a chance to drill more on Lynch’s competitive landscape views.
1) With Silverlight, Microsoft really has Adobe’s Flash team on its toes, making sure they stay on top of new features, etc. But as far as AIR is concerned, this is a totally new ballgame where Microsoft is not yet playing. That perhaps explains why the guys in Redmond are spraying some FUD around the danger of using Web apps on the desktop.
2) Mozilla’s Prism project is a much closer competitor to AIR. However, Lynch quickly dismissed it pointing that Adobe is up to 2 years ahead on the Mozilla folks on the concept of running Web apps on the desktop.
3) Browsers could also be seen as competing with AIR, especially with plug-ins like Google’s Gears for Firefox and Internet Explorer that lets you run web apps offline. But Lynch argues that user will be confused with the user interface, as you still will see the traditional Web buttons, toolbars, tabs, etc… in what should be a classic desktop application.