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The Battle of Web 2.0 RunTimes

If Adobe gets its way, Rich Internet Applications will soon be less dependent on the Web.

Adobe recently released a beta version of Adobe Integrated Runtime (AIR), designed to help IT build better Web apps. Formerly called Apollo, the software supports both Flash and Ajax. Adobe also has released a beta version of Flex 3 that can be used with AIR.

AIR competes with other so-called RIA runtimes, including Google Gears and Microsoft's new Silverlight. The most significant new feature in the AIR beta is an embedded SQLite database, which Google is also using in its Gears offline Ajax libraries. This isn't a coincidence: Although Adobe and Google are rivals in some respects, they have a common enemy in Microsoft and have worked together to apply SQLite to cross-platform and Web-based applications.

The only real downside of all these extra features is that they demand a relatively powerful platform. The limitations of mobile devices mean that AIR will be likely confined to the desktop until 2009.