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!


About Sean Chambers

I am a Senior software developer from Palm Coast, Florida. An advocate of Domain Driven Design, Behavior Driven Development, creator of FluentMigrator and community activist. I am married to my beautiful wife Erin and am the proud father of two wonderful children. I currently reside at ACI, a local insurance industry/mortgage software company that excels in creating solutions using Agile methodologies.
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  • We can only pray that Microsoft will allow those developers utilize their talents to help the company realize it’s current role as our industry’s innovator. After reading Fowler’s entry about Alpha geeks, that is exactly what they do, they fulfill innovation. They take the talk and show the code. And they usually do it first.

    Like my favorite quote from Linus Torvalds (Creator of Linux – which rocks by way (I agree with you Sean)) – “Talk is cheap, show me the code”.

    Keep the posts coming bro, they are excellent information for the masses.

  • I listened to the first 2 episodes of Rubiverse today that touch on a lot of these points. The first with John Lam and second with Bellware. The thing that stuck out to me was how important it’s going to be for Microsoft to get IronRuby to run Rails. John said they are absolutely planning on doing it, Scott is not so confident. I really do hope John can pull it off, but I’m pretty skeptical as well. The day I see the entire Rails test suite pass using IronRuby will indeed be a good one.

    Unfortunately for Microsoft, by the time IronRuby is ready to “ship”, many more folks will have switched from .NET to Ruby/Rails and probably won’t look back. Including hopefully myself in the somewhat near future.

    Oh, btw, Rubiverse can be found here:

  • LOL.

    I had full intention to listen and blog on those. I fell asleep though. I guess you snooze you lose…..or another LosTechies does it and you still win. :)

    Thanks for the heads-up Joey.

  • Let’s look beyond IronRuby. MS’s model of delivering software has to change. They have already admitted that they will never repeat what happened with Vista. Vista is the quintessential culmination of the fallacies of heavy weight design.

    You spend 5 years creating a product that maybe adds 15% more productivity if that! In 5 years with a multi billion dollar budget they should be Apple! The should be leading innovation in the OS market not the other way around.

    Ballmer has recently indicate that MS future direction is in the “Cloud”. A clear statement to the fact that recent pressure from Google and Apple are sinking in, not to mention Ubuntu coming in from the shadows like a ninja in the night.

    So the question is as a development community, what do we expect from a perspective of “quality” and “productivity”? Is it innovation? We have the web. The fact that RoR is taking off is sad!!! The reason I am saying this is because the web model has been around for decades but we are just NOW figuring out how to wrap an intuitive and scalable MVC pattern around it! MS should be leading this front given their R&D budgets and overspending! Not playing catch up. Stop catering to Mort and listen to real developers who need real tools! Cater to Mort in VBA and Office, be innovative in ALL other areas!

    Sorry for the rant :-) you just struck a nerve… LOL

  • @Joey : I am actually starting to use RoR more and more at work. Although I found the most dificult thing is setting up a production server with mongrel to run RoR. Other than that, that language is some awesome stuff. Especially the very intuitive syntax

    @Joe : Say it brother! I couldn’t have said it better myself. That was exactly what I was aiming to say. Microsoft SHOULD be leading us and be ahead of everyone else, not behind the eight ball on this one. I think the next 2-3 years will be a very important time for them. The morts (not all of them), are quickly becoming more experienced so the number of more experienced .Net developers is increasing at an amazing rate. Microsoft has to lead the pack now, or be left behind in the dust.

    p.s. I loved that comment about ubuntu being a ninja in the night. I could picture an orange/brown ninja with a gnome logo on his chest =)

  • Speaking of Morts, another interesting thing that Bellware brought up was the fact that RoR might actually be great for Morts! I can see how that could be the case. Because it would allow them to not only “get stuff done”, but also given the constraints of Rails and its “opinion” towards strongly encouraging practices like TDD and good separation of concerns, it would allow even Morts to produce both “quick and clean” software.

    Just some interesting thoughts…

  • Okay, it’s official. I’m going to start playing with Rails and Ruby. You guys are leaving me in the dust.

    Expect emails from me guys. :)

  • Great Jason!

    I haven’t really played with it that much. Definately take a look at the screencasts on the RoR site. I did the flickr one to test it out and was amazed how easy it was.

  • @Sean I will work on the Ninja pic! :-)

    I am always reserved about “Morts” they like all users amaze me on how they can mess up what I think is unbreakable. They will find a way to create a GUI wizard that writes controllers and views for them. Then they will come out with their own scripting language called RScript because Ruby doesn’t make sense for them and they need a higher level language. It will happen, it is just a matter of time. I can easily see some gui that makes pretty representations of all the controllers and you click and drag them to the view you need wired up. Through magic the view is wired up and AR classes are created. Oh I can see it now…. Am I scaring you yet?

    It was only a matter of time! lol

  • “I can easily see some gui that makes pretty representations of all the controllers and you click and drag them to the view you need wired up. Through magic the view is wired up and AR classes are created. Oh I can see it now…. ”


    Thanks Joe, you’ve successfully killed any confidence I had in bringing the Morts into the RoRst Century… :P