InfoWorld review: Microsoft Silverlight 4 vs. Adobe Flash 10.1

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Ultimately, innovative feature sets and powerful development tools will eke out an RIA category killer. Development of a solid mobile framework will be essential for both vendors as data consumption continues to shift from traditional desktop and laptop computers to smaller, touch-screen devices. Time will tell how Flash will fare on Android and whether Silverlight will join it there or remain faithful to Windows Phone 7. 

For the moment, the decision is between Microsoft's strong developer orientation and Adobe's emphasis on design. For any enterprise project requiring heavy programming or data access, especially in-house applications that would benefit from Windows desktop integration, Silverlight is the top choice. The available codecs are sufficient by today's standards, and in most cases the user interface designs can be ported from Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator without degradation -- although workflow will be somewhat encumbered.

However, if your application will be making basic service calls to feed data and won't require a lot of processing overhead, or if your goal is eye-popping layouts or 3D graphics for customer-facing communications -- i.e., whenever the development process is design-intensive -- then you'll benefit from Adobe's designer-oriented approach. If you're already an Adobe shop, or you've already begun with Silverlight, you're undoubtedly happy with what you've got. Both platforms are strong, and the competition will keep both vendors working hard to make them better.

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