Adobe and Microsoft Take Their Duel to Web Video

Includes: ADBE, MSFT
by: Larry Dignan

Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have soft-pedaled their rivalry on the Web, but a series of announcements from the two companies shows where this competition is really going.

Destination: Web video. And if you believe that video is going to be the most important cog of the Web the stakes are very high (see Techmeme discussion). First a brief recap: Adobe unveiled its offline media player, which could become a threat to Windows Media Player. Microsoft also unveiled its Silverlight video tool, which looks to usurp Adobe's Flash video player.

To wit: Microsoft showed off its video side and announced Silverlight, which was formerly known as WPF/E (I'll take Silverlight thank you). Silverlight is an alleged Flash video killer.

Ryan Stewart's take:

When you look at the explosion of Flash video and how it has transformed the web, it was easy to see that Microsoft had to get in. Flash video happened almost by accident, but it really energized Adobe and gave it even more street credit with consumers and media companies alike.

Stewart goes on to point out that Flash video does have some weaknesses that Microsoft can exploit.

Microsoft's challenge: Good luck uprooting the Flash player, which has an 84 percent penetration as of March.  

Adobe also took the wraps off of Philo, its media player. Now the player is known as Adobe Media Player, which will have DRM protections. Ryan Stewart sees it as a competitor to Joost. In reality, Adobe's media player, which will work offline, could become a viable threat to the Windows Media Player.

Adobe's challenge: Good luck uprooting the Windows Media Player, which is quite entrenched. 

Call this battle a draw, but it's going to be really interesting as it unfolds.