Home Microsoft Licenses Flash Lite and Reader

Microsoft Licenses Flash Lite and Reader

Microsoft and Adobe today announced that Adobe Flash Player Lite and Reader LE software would be shipping on Windows Mobile (neither company has indicated when). This is somewhat surprising given Microsoft’s desire to see their Flash competitor Silverlight succeed, but it is also a good move for both companies.

We’re just two weeks removed from Steve Jobs panning Flash Lite as “not capable of being used with the web,” saying that it bears little resemblance to Flash on the PC (which in turn is too slow to use in the iPhone, according to Jobs). For Adobe, a high profile partnership with Microsoft to ship Flash Lite on Windows Mobile devices, along with the announcement that Flash Lite has now been installed on 500 million devices, is a clear message to mobile developers that despite what Jobs says their platform is relevant.

Windows Mobile is the second most popular mobile operating system worldwide. Flash, meanwhile, is arguably the most popular rich media platform on the web reaching almost 99% of Internet users, according to Adobe.

For Microsoft, even though they’re still banking on Silverlight, licensing Flash Lite now is a smart move. It gives their mobile OS a tangible advantage over the surging iPhone, and as as Larry Dignan points out, it gives them an opportunity to learn how to roll out a rich media platform on the mobile. Flash Lite now means access to a ton of already made rich media content, video, and applications that users of some rival platforms don’t have access to.

Even though Silverlight has signed some high profile partnerships to deliver web video, including with Major League Baseball and NBC for the Beijing Olympics, it is still largely not used by developers. Further, a mobile version of Silverlight won’t ship for a few months. If Microsoft can expand the reach of Silverlight on the web via more partnerships like the ones it has been signing, then it can worry about pushing Silverlight to mobile platforms. We agree with Dignan at ZDNet: in a couple of years, this partnership will probably be irrelevant, but in the short term, it’s a great move for both companies.

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