For years now I’ve heard tell of ‘Sparkle’, Microsoft’s supposed alternative to the Flash player / platform. At the time of this writing you can find search results on mcrosoft.com about sparkle, but few of those pages exist, and none of the actual product links. I’m guessing, but I think that their new product Silverlight is the same thing rebranded, and is certainly being touted as a smackdown-style competitor to Flash.
Adobe isn’t resting on its laurels, though – Mashable also reports that Adobe’s new Media Player is a direct competitor to Windows Media Player.
I can’t really see either platform having too much success in the short term since Flash not only has player-ubiquity on it’s side, but a huge developer-base; while in the media player world I still suspect a huge number of users don’t even know what one is, let alone why you would go and install another one and go through all the file- and mime-type hassles that entails.
Update:Techcrunch has quite a bit more information about the silverlight platform … and it actually sounds quite nice, although I’m not convinced that it will be that great for designers (not that I am one …)