Microsoft's Stance On Flash - InformationWeek

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5/4/2010
12:03 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Microsoft's Stance On Flash

Microsoft has indirectly responded to Steve Job's missive regarding Flash on one of their developer blogs. While they share some concerns with Apple about Flash, Microsoft's position is to continue working with Adobe engineers and support Flash. I take that to mean that Flash for Windows Phone 7 will still be a reality.

Microsoft has indirectly responded to Steve Job's missive regarding Flash on one of their developer blogs. While they share some concerns with Apple about Flash, Microsoft's position is to continue working with Adobe engineers and support Flash. I take that to mean that Flash for Windows Phone 7 will still be a reality.Dean Hachamovitch, Microsoft's General Manager for Internet Explorer on the desktop made it clear that Flash isn't perfect, but makes it equally clear that it supports Flash.

"Flash does have some issues, particularly around reliability, security, and performance. We work closely with engineers at Adobe, sharing information about the issues we know of in ongoing technical discussions. Despite these issues, Flash remains an important part of delivering a good consumer experience on today's web."

Flash is too integral to the web to ignore it, and if anyone has good reason to banish it, it is Microsoft since it has its own competitive product, Silverlight. Microsoft though, is, in my opinion a different company from a decade ago. Ten years ago, Apple's future was uncertain, there were no browsers that really gave Internet Explorer a run for its money and the combination of Windows and Office seemed unbeatable, so much so the Department of Justice was considering breaking the company up.

Today, Apple's Mac OS-X is strong, even if it is still a minor part of the desktop market share. The iPod is unquestionably the portable MP3 player king and the iPhone embarrassed all other smartphone manufacturers. Office is getting some challenges from free services like Google Docs and Internet Explorer share continues to decline.

Microsoft has good reason to give the customer what it wants. Windows 7 is a good example of the direction Microsoft is heading. A lot of smartphone fans are hoping Windows Phone 7 will continue that trend. Part of that will be giving users the apps they want. Rather than take the path Apple has, which is to arbitrarily pick and choose whatever they want to allow into the App Store, Microsoft will need to need to stick to banning only those apps that risk device instability, unnecessarily hinder performance or put user's data at risk.

Given Hachmovitch's response to Flash on the desktop. that attitude should persist to the mobile platform, and for the same reasons. Unlike Apple, Microsoft posted its thoughts on Flash in a blog post and enabled comments. Because so many comments were generated, Hachmovitch wrote a second blog post that answered many of the common themes, positive and negative. Ed Bott asked Hachmovitch why he wrote the second post. "At the end of the day, we're building a browser for the Windows customer. Listening to that customer, in whatever form that takes, is not just important, it defines what we're here to do."

Microsoft has already gotten religion on device updates for Windows Phone 7. The customer is who Microsoft needs to please here and they finally recognize the customer is you and me, first and foremost, not the carrier.

It is sort of funny today to talk about Microsoft as the company engaging the consumer, trying to figure out what we want and how to best deliver it while Apple hands out edicts on how you can share your music, what apps you can install on your device, and why it can remove them later if it so decides. And no, you still cannot get Flash on the iPhone, because Steve Jobs hath spoken.

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