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day permlink Wednesday, 16 June 2004

permlink Joel explains Microsoft's environment

Joel Spolsky explains why Microsoft is having some difficulty getting people to develop applications which require Windows to run... It's long, but interesting if you're a developer having to deal with Windows as client or server.

Joel on Software - How Microsoft Lost the API War
...the idea of unifying the mess of Visual Basic and Windows API programming by creating a completely new, ground-up programming environment [.NET] with not one, not two, but three languages (or are there four?) is sort of like the idea of getting two quarreling kids to stop arguing by shouting "shut up!" louder than either of them. It only works on TV...

...At last year's PDC they preannounced the next major version of their operating system, codenamed Longhorn, which will contain, among other things, a completely new user interface API, codenamed Avalon... And if you're developing a Windows GUI app today using Microsoft's "official" .. programming environment, WinForms, you're going to have to start over again in two years to support Longhorn and Avalon. Which explains why WinForms is completely stillborn. Hope you haven't invested too much in it...

...So you've got the Windows API, you've got VB, and now you've got .NET, in several language flavors, and don't get too attached to any of that, because we're making Avalon, you see, which will only run on the newest Microsoft operating system, which nobody will have for a loooong time...

...Microsoft grew up during the 1980s and 1990s, when the growth in personal computers was so dramatic that every year there were more new computers sold than the entire installed base. That meant that if you made a product that only worked on new computers, within a year or two it could take over the world even if nobody switched to your product. That was one of the reasons Word and Excel displaced WordPerfect and Lotus so thoroughly: Microsoft just waited for the next big wave of hardware upgrades ... So in many ways Microsoft never needed to learn how to get an installed base to switch from product N to product N+1... This didn't matter when the PC industry was growing like wildfire, but now that the world is saturated with PCs most of which are Just Fine, Thank You, Microsoft is suddenly realizing that it takes much longer for the latest thing to get out there.

...Much as I hate to say it, a huge chunk of developers have long since moved to the web and refuse to move back. Most .NET developers are ASP.NET developers, developing for Microsoft's web server. ASP.NET is brilliant ... But it's a server technology, so clients can use any kind of desktop they want...

None of this bodes well for Microsoft and the profits it enjoyed thanks to its API power. The new API is HTML, and the new winners in the application development marketplace will be the people who can make HTML sing.

permlink Software updates

Software updates:
  • Six Apart has revised their licensing scheme for Movable Type 3.0. Much more sensible/palatable now: Six Log: Announcing Pricing & Licensing Changes to Movable Type
  • Firefox 0.9 is out. If you're already using 0.8, I don't think you'll notice much difference. If you're on Windows and you're not using Firefox at all yet, however, you are truly missing out.
  • I recently purchased PrintMusic! to get back in the business of arranging a cappella. (Finale NotePad is OK for a scratch project, but to get real work done you need the upgrade). So far I'm happy with it.

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