HTML 5, Flash and SilverLight
A few years ago Microsoft started with SilverLight competing with Flash. Microsoft leverages the huge number of .NET developers that now can easily apply their skills on the dynamic web. This combined with the improved abilities to create line of business applications is now bringing Windows to the web. Looking at Microsofts own web applications it's all about copying Windows to the web. I'm not sure if desktop applications should use the same patterns as web applications, but that is a nice topic for an other article.
HTML 5 the next version of HTML does provide a nice new standard for building dynamic and media rich applications. It's still in its infancy and only a few browsers provide support, but has a clear future in providing the future application platform.
In short, three compelling technologies, each with different advantages, disadvantages and adoption rates. Today choosing the right technology really depends on your solution in combination with your ability to either distribute a plug-in or enforce a specific browser. It will be very difficult to make the right choice!
It's all going to be even worse with the upcoming Apple iPad, the most desirable tablet you can imagine. It really doesn't matter how great competitive devices are going to be. Everybody wants an iPad anyway. The iPad will be a great device to give a way in competitions, as sales incentives etc... just because everybody wants to have one. However your favorite browser plugin will not work on the device!
Just imagine some of the following:
1. Your business is giving away iPads as a price, don't you want your website to work on the device?
2. You are in charge of deciding a new SaaS solution and your boss is proudly showing off his new iPad gadget.
It doesn't really matter anymore how great Flash and SilverLight are... when they are not supported on the iPad, their use will get limited.