When you attend a conference there is always a danger of going native, enjoying the Cool-Aid a little too much, so it pays to give it a couple of days before commenting. I wasn’t able to make Microsoft MIX this time around but I did follow it on the web. Unless I am much mistaken, things are looking up for Microsoft.
As a developer advocate company RedMonk tends to have a somewhat different perspective than many of our peers that focus solely on purchasing. With that in mind it would be foolish to write off the Microsoft developer base – now that the company seems to have working out how to (re)address two key markets – mobile and the cloud. Not everything is rosy, but Microsoft does seem to have dealt with some important hygiene factors. Now it just needs to enthuse its huge developer base to the tasks and opportunities at hand.
What was bad at MIX? A lot of the scripted jokes fell flat for one. The growing trend to rely on teleprompters at conferences is just awful, in my opinion. When the audience is developers its better to be real than slick. Authenticity is what counts. And if you suck at jokes, don’t let them put them on the teleprompter.
Mobile: Back In The Game
Microsoft needed a hard reset to get back in the game. Apple is so far ahead at this point, with Android also making incredible running in both phones and embedded devices. Windows Mobile was never going to be the competitive foil Microsoft needed.
When the Silverlight team originally told me they were going to be a big part of Microsoft’s new mobile strategy I was skeptical, but after Mix less so.
Microsoft decided, in a decision that is very unusual for Microsoft, to jettison backwards compatibility and Windows Mobile in favour of a new OS foundation and product line called Windows Phone 7 Series. See that’s the thing about consumerisation of IT- its no good worrying about backwards compatibility for the corporate developer if nobody wants to buy your phones.
The new hotness, as we all know, is app stores. That’s the other essential part of the new mobile model. One point of clear blue water between Apple and Microsoft is a willingness to compromise – and only one of the companies is going to support private app stores. This could be a big deal. Say you’re a Fortune 500 company that builds an app for employees. You roll it out to 20k employees… then…. you find a bug. With the Apple permission-based web model – you’d need to resubmit the app to fix the bug. That’s never going to fly in corporate development shops.
There are many many ifs and buts before we can say that Microsoft is going to make a strong mobile play – it has neither the single vendor model of Apple nor the broad OS adoption of Google’s Android… but in mobile shiny is not an optional extra.
Its Friday, and I have a meeting to get to. Luckily this is a natural place to stop before a second part, which looks at the Microsoft cloud story…
disclosure: Microsoft is a client.