Macromedia seems to think so
and is starting to release products that make the rich client all the more possible in this Internet age. Ditto
for Microsoft. But do people really want rich clients in place of their browser based applications?
The motives for Microsoft and Macromedia to push people away from the web browser are obvious — they make money on the development and deployment tools, not on the browser. If you rely on either company for both the development and deployment of your client applications, then that is a lot more money in their pockets. The same cannot be said if you continue to create web applications. There are many options when it comes to creating web apps and the market for app servers, development tools, etc. is fierce.
Some will likely argue that Microsoft and Macromedia aren't trying to eliminate the web browser, they're only going to supplement it. I could understand that argument if it weren't for the fact that both companies are pushing so hard for rich clients in place of the web browser. Both companies argue that today's businesses need richer interfaces to achieve their goals. Essentially, Microsoft and Macromedia are saying the browser was nice but now it's time to move on.
I'm not sure if either company has learned why the web browser was so successful and continues to be a success. It seems that both companies are creating an artificial demand for richer applications that go beyond the web browser. I think we as users and (some of us) IT influencers need to make a better evaluation of where/why rich applications are necessary. We cannot buy into what the vendors are trying to sell us without taking a closer look at the reality of the situation. Remember, many of us bought into the dot com hype and look where that got us. Let's not blindly follow another trend that may only set us back yet again.
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