Microsoft’s fancy footwork

A couple of days ago Phil made this posting stating that he is going to Seattle to join Microsoft. He mentioned that one of the projects he will be working on is the new ASP.Net MVC framework. I won’t be discussing my thoughts on the MVC framework here, but rather I will be discussing how this relates to the community which I had a very interesting conversation last night with my boss and a co-worker mainly about Apple but it also relates to the development community.

Okay, first of all we can all agree that Microsoft has severely messed up on their implementation and deployment of Windows Vista. Joe Ocampo had a posting describing just this on LosTechies recently. I won’t dive down into detail stating what they messed up on, but from 6 versions of an OS to severely over estimating the market I think it’s pretty obvious that they screwed the pouch on this one.

Apple is obviously the talk of the town at the moment with their iPhone, new iTouch, new iMacs and various other innovations. All of this without yet releasing their new OS, which by the way is coming soon. They aren’t trying to massively hype everyone on Leopard which honestly they shouldn’t be. I don’t think it has that many new features to really hype up that much. Time Machine is cool, so is some new eye candy and various other application improvements but that’s about it. The point here is, with Microsoft’s recent Vista debacle, Apple obviously sees an opportunity to take some massive ground on the market and they should be taking even more advantage of soon. They may not be doing this with the iPhone but seeing how well these phones are doing it will definitely turn people’s heads and get them thinking about Apple more and in turn get people to buy more Apple products.

Linux is also doing quite well specifically with Ubuntu. They have now made it so easy to get up and running with Ubuntu that virtually anyone can do it. Along with the extremely strong community behind them, this is also going to taking some of the market. Perhaps not as much as Apple, but their fair share.

Does any of this “market share” really matter at this point? Not really, I mean Microsoft is worth something like $270 billion at the moment while Apple is at around $50 billion. Immediately, this is no big deal to Microsoft, now 5 years down the road is a different story though.

This brings me to my main point…

The hiring of Open Source gurus and Alpha Geeks by Microsoft lately is quite interesting. What is happening now is that it seems like Microsoft has realized that they have screwed up with Vista and couple that with the fact that all the experienced developers are moving away from ASP.Net tools and going to open source ones like NHibernate, Castle, Spring etc.. they have realized that they have to do something quickly to save their eroding developer market. This is where the recent hires come into play like Scott Hanselman, Phil Haack and Rob Conery among many others.

Now, I don’t want to make it seem like I am downplaying the reasons these developers got hired for a hidden agenda at Microsoft because I am not. The reason that Microsoft hired them is because they are the best of the best AND because they have a very loyal following in the open source arena. Microsoft knows that the open source community will listen to all of these individuals and came to the conclusion of why bother trying to battle open source? Let’s hire the best open source .Net developers and then this will bring the open source developers/alpha geeks back to Microsoft.

In my honest opinion, this was an extremely smart move on Microsoft’s part. After hearing about this I was excited to see this MVC framework from Microsoft. This coming from a person who refuses to even touch the painful ASP.Net Page Lifecycle among other gripes.

Microsoft has definitely played this one very well, at least compared to how Vista turned out. That’s why they are the most powerful software company in the world. They have realized that this was the best thing they can do at this time in the developer market. Invite the best of the open source community inside with open arms and try to understand how the rest of the community would like their software and frameworks to be built.

Now, the final and biggest question… Will Microsoft now try to get these developers to do programming their way, or will these developers induce a very good, and needed change in how Microsoft develops their tools.

I want to congratulate all of these individuals that Microsoft has brought on board. I am very jealous and hope to learn as much as I can from you so that I can hope to be as good of a developer as you gentlemen are!


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