Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) joins a growing list of rich Internet development technologies. Adobe does not see AIR as competing with Microsoft's new Silverlight platform or Sun Microsystems' JavaFX, both of which are intended to enhance visual experiences in applications. "Silverlight competes directly with the Flash Player, and JavaFX also is competitive with the Flash Player," said Michele Turner, vice president of the Adobe platform business unit.
Analyst Michael Cote of Redmonk compared AIR to Sun's Java Web Start technology for network deployment of Java applications. AIR's desktop focus differentiates itself from Silverlight, he noted, while Sun's JavaFX technology is "just a way of making nicer Java UIs," he said.
Below is a brief primer on some of the more prominent offerings in this space:
Adobe AIR: A runtime that enables deployment of rich Internet applications on the desktop and that can leverage the Adobe Flash Player.
Adobe Flash Player: A browser-based plug-in for running multimedia applications.
Adobe Flash: A platform for building rich interactive content that can run on the Web or desktop using Flash Player.
Adobe Flash CS3: A toolkit for building animation-type applications that can run in Flash Player; it's also available as part of the Adobe Creative Suite Professional editions.
Microsoft Silverlight: A browser plug-in for .Net-based media experiences and rich Web applications.
Sun Microsystems JavaFX, including JavaFX Script: A family of products based on Java that is intended to provide consistent user experiences from the desktop to mobile devices to set-top boxes.