Microsoft announced a new product called Expression Sparkle Interactive at PDC 2005 for creating Avalon user interfaces. Sparkle and the Windows Presentation Foundation together are seen as a Flash alternative and Adobe is already taking the Microsoft threat seriously.

Sparkle draws much of its inspiration from Macromedia Flash like Timelines, Drawing Tools and Image support. And 3D drawing and animation is one area where Microsoft sparkle has an upper-hand over Macromedia Flash. Sparkle also gives developers the full breadth of programming languages such as C# to add interactivity to their solutions.

But Sparkle is designed only to work with Windows Longhorn (read, Vista) which won't be available until late 2006. And it would take much greater time before people actually start buying Windows Vista.

That gives Adobe-Macromedia enough time to improve Flash. The ubiquitous lightweight Flash player is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, handheld devices and cellular phones. And Flash Player is free while Sparkle would require users to upgrade to a completely new OS and even new hardware.

Sparkle is a very promising technology but it will take years before we start seeing actual Sparkle applications. Till then, it's Flash all the way. If Adobe incroporates 3D features from Adobe After Effects into Macromedia Flash 9, Sparkle will find the going even tougher.

Read more in Publish.com story Sparkle Vs. Flash