Microsoft staying relevent

August 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm (.Net, Apple, Free Software, Google, Linux, Mac, Microsoft, Opensource, Personal, Programming, Python, Rant, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, Technology, Web2.0)

Update: As the Ruby Inside blog points out maybe Microsoft thinks they need to revert back to their old ideas

Lately as I’ve been learning Ruby I’ve noticed some frustrating hurdles that are becoming all too familiar.

Now I know  Microsoft has taken steps to embrace the “other” world of web programmers but as I’ll show, I believe the wrong steps.

As the Ruby and Python web frameworks grew and also the community that insisted on developing web applications in a way that kept them in control of the HTML,CSS etc. Microsoft noticed and responded with the ASP.Net MVC releases. Their also were Windows programmers working on Iron Ruby, Iron Python etc.

This strategy while seemingly plugging the whole in the boat in my opinion is only delaying the inevitable shift developers are making to the “dark side”. Whether Microsoft or anyone else wants to admit it the threat from Mac OS X, Linux, Ruby, Python etc has much more in common then is admitted from the Microsoft camp.

For starters as I’ve said in other blog posts, a great deal of the Mac OS X shift by Windows developers and to be fair even Linux developers has more to do with the tools then it does to do with the pretty beach ball spinny thing ( ie. the pretty things). The Linux shift has more to do with instability at times on the Linux platform but that may be worked out if Ubuntu stays focused on the important things.

Not only do I believe Windows could slow the shift by their current developers but they could also possibly gain some of them back. Rather then try to force everything through the .Net filter they need to do the obvious. Give them what they are looking for.

1.How about a native Bash or Zsh environment. Environment being the key word. There are some applications running natively but far from a complete environment. An even so much of this has to be scraped together from evry corner of the web.

Developers now hanging on by a thread to the Windows platform have to jump through all kinds of hoops to use Windows. There is the Cygwin setup that breaks every time Windows upgrades. Although I must say the Cygwin developers have done a good job keeping things in order. I know Microsoft hates to admit it but .Net and C# isn’t for everyone. Stop thinking everyone wants a .Net implementation of every tool or language there is.

2.Embrace what the developers want to use rather then what Microsoft thinks they should use.

This doesn’t mean Microsoft is giving up on what they see as the future of programming. There are plenty of developers that still use those tools and will continue to stay the .Net path.

3.Embrace the commandline, the classic commandline. There are many developers and sysadmins who have tried to wrap their heads around Poweshell. The object oriented shell isn’t what some want to use. Again there are some who think that way but there are also those who wonder what the hell was Microsoft thinking. When the sysadmins and developers were begging for a better commandline story on Windows I’ll be willing to bet Powershell isn’t what they were thinking. The problem with Microsoft and these technologies is that they spend so much money and time on these technologies before the users get to see them that is more or less stuck with where they’ve gone.

If none of this strikes a note with Microsoft people then maybe we need to just admit that there are droves of developers who just need to keep switching.

There are developers that are holding on by a thread, believing that they can possibly stay on Windows but that thread is getting thin. Try setting up a native Django, or Rails development environment on Windows and see how long before your installing Cygwin, creating symlinks and such to make their environment “feel” native.

I would venture to say with all the free and opensource software that already exists having this happen would be more of pulling these tools together then remaking everything from scratch.

This would give Microsoft a much better story in their competition with Google and web applications in general. How much better off would they be covering much broader of a base of developers then they currently do. Who knows Microsoft could even innovate in this space and shock everyone. I know the resources are there but the will is at this time.

How would they like to see all the old school hackers that even work for Microsoft to stop buying Macs and using Macs to program for Microsoft. When the .Net Emacs project starting getting leaked to the world I truly believed that someone at least got part of the problem. But developers don’t want .Net everything. Microsoft could embrace what developers want even more then Apple and in my opinion shift the tide

P.S. Maybe you’ll listen, maybe you won’t, but at least I tried to articulate a few things that would make Windows seem like a platform I could even think of continuing to use.

As always just my two cents.

Thanks

Joe Ryan

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