Interactive Web pages built with multimedia tools such as Macromedia’s Flash and Flex have been around for years. These so-called rich Internet application tools will continue to exist for sophisticated tasks, but AJAX fits the need for simpler jobs, like adding interactivity to an existing Web site, Monson-Haefel said.
The ability to build a better Web is paving the way for hosted services funded by advertising or subscriptions. That’s a shift from the traditional desktop software model where customers pay an up-front fee to install software onto a single machine.
“AJAX is not a panacea,” said Zimbra’s Dietzen, noting that some applications, such as complex spreadsheets or presentations, demand desktop storage. “It’s excellent for enriching traditional Web apps that need it. But not all Web applications need to have a richer UI. For the ones that do, AJAX is by far the best choice.