By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2005-01-31 Print this article Print

What is the status of Sparkle? [Sparkle is an authoring tool meant to compete with the Macromedia Flash Authoring tool.] Somasegar: The plans for Sparkle have not changed any with all the Longhorn plans. The reason is because one of the things we decided early on with Sparkle is to say that we are going to take a bet on Avalon. On some sense the updated plan has only helped us because now there is an opportunity for Sparkle to run wherever Avalon runs. So if you think about Sparkle as an ISV thing, or a tool on top of the platform, then reach is important. So in some sense its made our lives a little bit easier.
So is it still viewed as a [Macromedia] Flash killer? Thats how its been characterized by some.
Somasegar: The way I think about it is if you want to really present information to your users in a highly compelling way, Avalon is the platform that lets you do that. Now are we going to compete with other people? Yes. But really what we are trying to say is for the breadth of customers that we have, and for the breadth of scenarios that we want to enable, a much richer UI experience will go a long way in simplifying the user experience and in enabling them to have richer UI experiences. And thats the primary reason we came up with this new presentation subsystem that we think is also going to let you take advantage of the latest hardware advances in the graphics world. The other thing this decision has done is that if you think about internally in the company, almost everybody that I talk to and the teams I talked to, people are excited about this plan. Because they feel that they have a high degree of confidence that they can deliver on this plan. Has it been considered that Avalon might be dropped from Longhorn like WinFS? Somasegar: We absolutely thought about that. We always think about that kind of possibility because, as I said before, the feature decisions that we make we constantly revisit them because at the end of the day there are three endpoints to the triangle. Youve got features, youve got quality, and youve got time to market. Theres always a good balance you need to strike between all of those things. So every feature we think about whether its the right feature, is it a feature we want to hold the product for, or is this feature less important in the grand scheme of things when I think about time to market and quality and adding value to our customers? So in the Longhorn process we thought about pretty much every feature. But we decided that the only feature that we wanted to delay until the following year was WinFS. Particularly because we were trying to build something that was really ambitious. Its both a high-performance file system and a high-performance relational store. And trying to get both together done along with everything else we were doing in the platform, we just thought it was going to take a longer time. So we thought about that, but as of today Indigo and Avalon are going to be in 2006 with Longhorn. Next Page: Balancing competition and cooperation with partners.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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