The news that developers will be able to create offline Silverlight applications “eventually” made me chuckle this morning. Microsoft seems to be getting better and better at missing the boat with new technology and producing something that’s a couple of years behind it’s competitors. Their main two contenders in this space are Google Gears and Adobe Air and they have been debated for some time now. Adobe Air was released last week, after a two year development programme and supports offline access. Google Gears has had offline capabilities for quite some time now, and they’ve even announced a mobile version of their framework. Microsoft is trying to push Silverlight into the mobile space too, but without offline capabilities, take-up won’t be so brilliant. (And it would seem that Microsoft don’t really understand “offline” anyway, and they are only implementing it “because customers expect it“)
I think it’s a shame that Microsoft lag so far behind when it comes to innovation. They are probably the richest software development organisation by far, yet they seem to struggle to come up with technology their clients can use. They have a consistent track record of announcing products, setting the market’s expectations and failing to deliver while other companies continue to sparkle in the same marketplace. I personally thing that this is the reason Microsoft will succumb to Google in the long run. Google has shown that they can deliver new and exciting products and continually surprises me with their ability to innovate and bring new offerings to market.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a market analyst so don’t really know what’s behind all the machinations that these companies live by. I’m but a humble user who makes use of these technologies. But, at the end of the day, it’s the common user that needs to be persuaded to part with their hard-earned dollars, to give eyeball time to their websites and to “market” their products through his experiences and anecdotes. So, they are the ones who have to be ultimately impressed. And Google has always pulled through. Whether I’m reading email, searching for plasma mounts or monitising my website, Google is my partner of choice for the simple reason that I know they can deliver.