Microsoft Bolsters Developer Tools To Inspire Innovation
At the October 28th, 2010 Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, CEO Steve Ballmer presided over 3 key announcements that affirm the software giant’s ambitions to retain and grow the mind share and market share of worldwide developers (see Figure 1). In fact the 3 main announcements foreshadow Microsoft’s convergence in the five pillars of consumer tech:
- IE9 showcases advancements in hardware acceleration and user experiences. Dean Hachamovitch demonstrated how hardware acceleration and site-centric design can transform the web experience. A comparison of Google Chrome vs Microsoft IE9 showed significant performance gains with IE9 at 60 frames per second (FPS) on HTML5 versus 40 FPS on the latest version of Chrome. The hardware acceleration definitely improves the audio, video, text, and canvas experience. The new browser supports HTML5 semantic tags, CSS3 2D transforms, and F12 capabilities.
Point of View (POV): IE9 transforms the browser market. Early demos show how quickly developers can build rich HTML5 experiences. Hardware acceleration and site-centric design will drive all future development capabilities as new devices such as tablets, surface computing, and mobile innovations enter the market. Of equal importance, Microsoft shows support for open standards in HTML5 while also betting on Silverlight for more complex apps that can simultaneously build in HTML5 and video. Unfortunately, a few beta users have reported stability issues on IE9. As with any early release, expect improved stability over the next 1 to 3 months.
- Windows Phone 7 attempts to gain traction. Launched one week ago, Scott Guthrie highlighted the key features in the WP7 platform. Adoption remains fierce with over 1000 applications and games uploaded into the integrated market place. During the Brandon Watson demo, attendees saw integrated experiences to XBox Live, a native Facebook application, and an exclusive Amazon Kindle app. Developers can build on Visual Studio Express, take advantage of OData support, and concurrently use Expression Blend with Visual studio to design digital assets and apply animation time lines. Visual Studio Express and Expression Blend will be available to developers at no cost.
(POV): WP7 shows promise in bringing Microsoft’s mobile efforts out of the doldrums. With Palm facing a brain drain post-HP acquisition, WP7 enters a competitive 4-way race among iOS4, Google Android, and RIM’s OS6 WebWorks development platform for mind share. However, Microsoft’s taken the lessons learned from a decade of catching up. By improving developer productivity through better tools, closer partnerships with device manufacturers on standards, and development of a market place, buyers and partners should not count Microsoft out. Early reports indicate that developers can build more quickly on WP7 than Android. Additionally, the industry can expect the tablet wars to heat up as these markets converge. Of note to iPhone users, many early users of WP7 on AT&T’s network claim that they have less dropped calls than Apple’s iPhone. Software Insider expects AT&T to start publishing dropped call results by device and OS.
- Windows Azure provides a key PaaS entry point for apps developers. Bob Muglia described the key tenants of platform as a service (PaaS) in Windows Azure. As the creation layer in the flavors of cloud computing, Microsoft shows its commitment to a true multi-tenant platform. VM’s are controlled at the app level, patch service and release management is maintained by the user, services are delivered ready made, tools are standardized, peak loads scale to demand, and the system is designed to withstand failure. Mark Russowich walked attendees through new features such as extra small instances, remote desktop, full IIS support, virtual network, elevated privileges, Windows Server 2008 R2 roles, and multiple administrator capabilities. Brian Hurray showed the audience how Team Foundation Server (TFS) can manage global deployments and leverage other identities beyond Active Directory. Project Dallas now evolves into Windows Azure Data Market with 35+ content partners, 60+ data offerings, and 100+ offers coming soon.
(POV): The Azure opportunity should accelerate innovation for developers. Microsoft is the largest general purpose PaaS on the market. Azure builds on a history of services built on Microsoft SQL Azure, Microsoft .NET, Microsoft Visual Studio, and Microsoft System Center. Despite the familiarity, partners will still need to understand the business model to support Windows Azure in order to profitably build the last-mile solutions customers seek. Windows Azure Market Place provides a key component in creating market demand. While Azure does support Java, developers looking at the Java world may want to first consider VMForce through the VMware and Salesforce.com alliance. Keep in mind, Microsoft is the only full service cloud offering across SaaS, DaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.
Figure 1. Flickr PhotoStream From PDC 10
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Credit: Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Bottom Line: Microsoft Invests In A Trifecta For Success
Microsoft’s taken the lessons learned from competitors and has improved on them. As it catches up in the browser, mobile, and cloud, developers should be rest assured that the Redmond giant has regained its mojo. Microsoft remains a fast follower, incorporating and improving competitor innovations by introducing ease of use, scale, and marketplaces to complete the ecosystem. Those who count Microsoft out will be disappointed. Those who discount Microsoft’s leadership in a full service cloud offering will miss the boat. WP7 will most likely give Android the most competition on the mobile side.
Are you a professional Microsoft developer? Do these announcements excite you? Is there a business market for innovation? Did Microsoft deliver the right tools? You can post or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwareinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.
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Copyright © 2010 R Wang and Insider Associates, LLC. All rights reserved.