You may already have heard: Silverlight 2.0 has been released. This is a big update to the Microsoft alternative of Flash. It will be interesting to see whether Silverlight will gain momentum on the web, it will probably require another YouTube or a controversial push using Internet Explorer 8 or Windows Update to get an install base. Silverlight has the big advantage of being able to use existing .NET languages and tools while programming for it. That means that even though Flash is a mature technology and Silverlight is brand new, chances of finding people quickly being able to learn to program Silverlight are pretty good. Flash still has a feature lead regarding platform support, x264 hi-def video and much better printing, but the gap is closing fast. Flash 10 is around the corner though, so expect some leapfrogging from Adobe there too.
Meanwhile, Sun does not seem to be able to get JavaFX shipping. Originally slated for early 2008, it is now Fall 2008, and even this release date seems to be slipping. Considering that several of the top Sun front-end programmers are now working for Adobe, this is not that much of a surprise though. JavaFX will probably have a very hard time competing with Flash or Silverlight. JavaFX evolves around a new language that still is not very friendly when mixed with regular Java, destroying a lot of potential existing programming experience. Sun is also still ignoring Eclipse as the dominant Java tooling platform, pushing instead for its much less popular Netbeans platform with some very mediocre tooling.
Microsoft, on the other hand, announced a joint effort to create Eclipse tooling for Silverlight, called Eclipse4SL. It will be developed on an open source license in conjunction with Soyatec. This will be very useful for Silverlight developers on non-Windows platforms like the Mac, or -gasp- Java developers that will use Silverlight in their web apps. Also programmers used to the Abode Flex Builder environment (also Eclipse based) may have an easier time switching. It's a nice example of Microsoft taking Eclipse and open source more seriously. At the same time, the difference with JavaFX becomes even more painful. Hopefully, Sun will learn from Microsoft: existing experience, tools and shipping on time matter. Don't think that showing an applet with a spinning video once a year is enough.