Flash, Silverlight and H.264

Post ImageAdobe launched a new version of Flash on Monday. The update is codenamed “Moviestar” because it adds support for H.264, a video compression codec. The release is significant because it allows Flash to play really high quality video. Adobe expects the final version to be ready this fall.

I think it’s clear that Adobe added H.264 support to Flash as a way to compete with Microsoft’s Silverlight and VC-1. SmugMug’s Don MacAskill thinks the announcement gives Adobe the edge:

Silverlight 1.0 is focused almost entirely on video, including HD, and clearly gunning for Flash. So why wouldn’t they go right for Flash’s big Achilles heel – no H.264 support?

Oh well – that opportunity is now lost, and I believe this basically nails Silverlight 1.0’s coffin shut.

Don goes on to say that he had high hopes for strong competition among Rich Internet Application frameworks. I really value Don’s opinion, and I think he’s a really smart guy, but I think his comment is somewhat misleading and I have to disagree with him here. Why? Because it’s only August 22nd, 2007, that’s why.

I realize that Don specifically mentioned “Silverlight 1.0” but I wouldn’t fault you for skimming over the version number, and that’s what needs to be addressed. First of all, Silverlight 1.0 hasn’t even been released yet. Secondly, the first real release is going to be Silverlight 1.1, which is currently in alpha. There’s a lot of time left before the final version of 1.1 is released. Who knows, maybe Microsoft will even add support for H.264 before that time (though Don says he has been told by MS employees that no more codecs will be added).

The point is that it’s still early. Don’t count Silverlight out just yet. Lots can happen between now and the final releases of both Flash “Moviestar” and Silverlight. I think it’s safe to say there won’t be a lack of competition in the RIA framework space.

I completely agree with Don’s last statement though:

You’re going to see a massive boom in the online video space shortly. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Exactly. Lots to come still. It’s an exciting time!

Read: SmugBlog