Monday, 19 September 2011

The Daily Review #2: John Papa leaves Microsoft

The Daily Review - 19th September 2011
Photo © Robwilson39 |

Microsoft Silverlight Evangelist John Papa Has Left The Building

Microsoft lost its biggest Silverlight Evangelist yesterday, when John Papa announced on his blog Sunday night that he was leaving Microsoft in Seattle with effect from today. He is returning to work at Disney in Florida, from where he'd originally been hired.

Is it too late to point out that I was only kidding when I said John would have to rename his Silverlight TV video initiative to Javascript TV after all the Microsoft announcements last week? ;-)

Conspiracy theorists (that'll be me then ;-)) will no doubt put this sudden move down to the "Silverlight is dead" shitstorm that's been doing the rounds of Twitter these last few days, but I'm assured by Silverlight Insiders that Papa's reasons for leaving are purely personal.

Clearly the timing of the announcement, the weekend AFTER Build when most people are flying back home, and just a day before Papa officialy leaves Microsoft, has been rigorously planned.

Coming on the back of Joe Stagner's departure just last week, not to mention a whole list of 'name' defections over the last year (Whatever happened to Ray Ozzie or Brad Abrams? Anybody?!), it does make one wonder why Microsoft has so much trouble hanging onto its more high profile 'rock star' staff.

In a statement on his blog Papa says he's making the move "to be nearer family" but goes on to add that he will "still be VERY active in the community and hopefully with Microsoft".

Whilst many are saddened by the news, I actually think this departure may ultimately be good news for 'community'.

Part of the reason John was hired by Microsoft was because of his high visibility in the Silverlight blogosphere. He led the way in explaining how to get different disparate Microsoft pieces (Blend, Visual Studio. PRISM and MVVM) all playing nicely together in the days when everybody was banging their heads against brick walls trying to figure this stuff out, with no guidance at all from Microsoft who maintained their usual 'silo mentality' to the problems.

Unfortunately, his appointment to Microsoft didn't lead to the expected 'Best Practice' guidance we've been promised for over 2 years now (and before someone says "PRISM v4" I sugggest you go check the promises made for that release 2 years ago vs what was actually delivered!) In effect Papa seemed to get side-lined by the marketing people, and concentrated on more introductory Silverlight material, presumably intended to get new developers on board with the technology. Meh! Of course it's possible he was doing all kinds of good, more advanced work 'behind the scenes', but if he was it was never really visible.

Whilst Silverlight TV was fun and a marketing success, it always felt like the sort of program that any smiley intern with little experience other than having drunk a couple of bottles of the Microsoft Kool-Aid could have presented.

Hopefully, with John's move back into the real world of Enterprise-scale development, we'll be seeing some great in-depth, expert, corporate-oriented blog posts of the type we used to see before he joined Microsoft. And that can only be a good thing. :-)

Silverlight isn't dead, it just smells a bit

Windows 8 Analysis Rumbles On

The post conference navel gazing rumbles on. And pretty tedious it is too, with seemingly endless 'me too' posts that read like someone at Microsoft sent out the same A4 sheet to all its Silverlight MVPs and said "Blog this for us, would you?! There's a good chap!"

If the majority of posts see Windows 8 as a good thing, even for Silverlight developers worried their career's just got flushed down the toilet, a few others are still carping on about the poor handling of the whole situation.

Tad Anderson summarised the overall developer (as opposed to Silverlight MVP) perception well when he wrote "My dog thinks that if he looks the other way and can't see you, you can't see him either. Not mentioning Silverlight for the past year did not kill it, it simply left everyone wondering why Microsoft chose to look the other way."

But perhaps the best developer analysis article I've read is that from Peter Green who in his rather strangely titled //Build/ is a double rainbow. What does it mean? blog post says "'What do you think the future of Silverlight is?' In case you’ve been living under a rock, this is the one question Microsoft promised to answer at the Build conference and unfortunately is one of the few questions they still refuse to address."

Peter concludes "As a Silverlight developer I have to grit my teeth a little when I profess my honest opinion that 'Silverlight for the web is dead'. Ouch, that still stings a little"

Awww, Peter, now you're NEVER going to get that MVP award, but thanks for writing one of the most intelligent, articulate and considered commentaries on the situation that I've read. Folks, please go read his blog post now!

Who cares about Windows 8 when 98% of Your Users are on Windows XP

Windows Tablet PC - iPad Beater or Not?

I've argued since the day I got my iPad that there are really just two big reasons why the iPad changed everything: immediate on and 10 hour battery life.

Windows 8 fixes the first issue. But what about the second?

There's been alarmingly little information coming out of Microsoft, the Build conference or its attendees on this front - just ridiculous claims that 'Windows 8 has killed the iPad'. I look forward to the apologetic retractions when a dramatically improved iPad 3 with very high resolution and great battery life ships whilst Windows 8 still hangs around in beta (but based on past performance I'm not holding my breath!)

I've sensed broad hints from Microsoft that Metro apps for tablet devices should be written with C++ and Javascript to help prolong battery life on hardware that just won't compete with iPad-like figures if apps are written with C# and XAML. But that may just be me being overly paranoid. Microsoft need to be clear about this if choice of which 'stack' to use really will have a major impact on the take-up of Windows 8 Tablet devices (and by association, Metro Style apps).

I mentioned in the Links section in yesterday's report that the Nerd Stalker podcast had mentioned a 'barely 3 hours' battery life figure for the tablet handed out to Build attendees. Let's hope that figure can be dramatically improved, because it's a total deal breaker for most of the potential market if that's what final devices with real apps ship with.

It looked like I was being too gloomy about this battery life stuff yesterday afternoon when the Twitter stream exploded with retweet enthusiasm for a blog post on Windows 8 Battery Life by a college student at San Jose University. Alas, my hopes were dashed when I realised this was all about hyping up the 'connected sleep' mode, rather than any sort of device I can have turned on and use for a full working day. The Microsoft Echo Chamber's "cut and paste" enthusiasm had led me down a blind alley again.

In a reply to a comment I made asking what this had to do with a device I wanted to use all day long the author confessed "Obviously these are all numbers out of my ass and don't prove anything.". Numbers out of your ass? Heh, I think I know a large PC software vendor who might be interested in hiring you! ;-)

Sadly I think we've got a long wait before the real story on battery life and app performance becomes fully known.

OK onto the updated link list, covering the last 24 hours...

Today's "Product Announcement" Links

OK Microsoft Visual Studio Agents 11 Developer Preview Edition (Microsoft)
Lost in the Build announcements was this "essential suite of agents and controllers that enable you to build and test applications across the desktop, server and cloud". I'm afraid I fell asleep half way through the brief :-(
OK Microsoft P&P Project Silk Released (Karl Schifflett, Microsoft)
Patterns & Practices release their "Client-side Web Development Framework for Modern Web Browsers" I have just three words for Microsoft P&P. Life's. Too. Short. And this was the worst possible time to release something like this without it getting lost in the noise. Maybe that was the intention?

Today's "Opinion Piece" Links

Must Read Microsoft Windows 8, Metro and Build (Tim Greenfield, Pragmatic Programmer)
Arguably the most articulate, intelligent article I've read about what got announced last week. May be too long a post for those from the MTV generation though!
Good Read Here's the One Microsoft Windows 8 Slide that Everyone Wants to Redo (Mary Jo Foley)
Well-written piece on the confusion caused by Microsoft's 'Markitechture' slide and careful analysis of some proposed replacements.
Good Read WinRT is Your Friend (Josh Smith)
Easy for Josh to say. Isn't he the guy who sold us all on Silverlight and then quickly abandoned it for iOS and iPhone development? :-P He explains some of that here.
Good Read Windows 8 BFD: Big Forking Decision (Monday Note)
Will the dual personality of Windows 8 be a turn-off for consumers? "We're told Windows 8 will ship in almost a year. A long, long time in this exploding market." He has a point!
Good Read Windows 8: What you need to know to be Productive now. (Ed Bott, Ziff-Davies)
A bit basic, but if you're staring at a fresh install of Windows 8 wondering what to do next, this may help.
OK Microsoft Windows 8, Metro and Build (Tad Anderson)
Microsoft fan boys won't like this one, but the comment "My dog thinks that if he looks the other way and can't see you, you can't see him either. Not mentioning Silverlight for the past year did not kill it, it simply left everyone wondering why Microsoft chose to look the other way." hit the nail on the head for me
OK Does Windows 8 = Post-PC? (AppleTell)
Some reasonable points get lost when the author resorts to exaggeration about likely Windows 8 delivery times (2 years? Really? I think not!)
OK Switched on: The Great Slate Debate of Windows8 (Engadget)
Engadget see the whole dual personality thing of Windows 8 being a problem for them in take-up of a Windows tablet. Outside the niche developer market they may have a point.
OK Windows 8 and the (disappointing) new App Store (Patrick Klug)
It takes him rather longer than it should to get to the point, but eventually Patrick explains why Microsoft's App Store announcements were a disappointment.
OK Windows 7 vs Windows 8 (Tech Vocal)
Apparently 128-bit support is coming to Windows 8. Really?!.
OK Metro Apps and Silverlight (Shawn Wildermuth)
Blah! Blah! Generic MVP 'Silverlight is Alive' blah! Too harsh? Probably, but when you've read something like 100 variations on the same tired theme it's hard to summon up ANY enthusiasm for this sort of post. Oh well, at least it has some nice pictures!
OK //Build 2 (Dave Campbell, Wynapse)
And another Silverlight MVP post about the Build conference! This one does have the interesting tit-bit from a Microsoft engineer that "There will be a switch that will bypass Metro for those organizations that want it.".
OK Microsoft Wants to Trademark the Word 'Charm' (Geek Wire)
Have you met anybody who actually liked the word 'charm' being used the way it is? Me neither!
OK John Papa Announces his Move from Microsoft to Disney (John Papa)
Insert your own joke about moving from one 'Mickey Mouse' company to another here!
OK Windows 8 Battery Life
Not as interesting or relevant as its title suggests.

Today's "Technical" Links

Bookmark it! Windows 8 Reinstall Asks for a Product Key (Microsoft Support)
If you reinstall Windows 8 you may be asked for a product key. This blog post has one for you.
Must Read Is WinRT just COM by another name? (Paul Winaev)
In his response to a Stack Overflow question about WInRT Paul gives one of the best quick technical summaries of what WinRT is that I've read.
Must Read WinRT vs Silverlight Part 5: Defining Default Style Template (Morten Nielsen, SharpGIS)
The fifth in his excellent short, sharp posts on WinRT vs Silverlight. Key takeaway: In WinRT you need to set build action of Themes\generic.xaml to "Content" and delete it from App.xaml where it's incorrectly automatically added!
Good Read Download all the Build Conference videos with RSS (Michael Crump)
He may have just started a new job as a Telerik Evangelist, but Michael still found time to document how to download all the Build Conference session videos using PowerShell. Now all you need is 3 months off work to watch them all!
Good Read Running the Windows Azure Tools and SDK on Windows 8 Developer Preview (Wade Wegner)
Again, it's all in the title.
Good Read A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Your First Hello World Metro Style Ap Using Live Connect in C# (Shelly Guos, Microsoft)
Assuming you signed up to LiveConnect and got the free Live Connect SDK for Windows 8, Shelly walks you through a tutorial to use the SDK with a Metro app.
Good Read How to Enable or Disable Hibernation in Windows 8 (Windows 8 Geek)
There's no Hibernate mode on the Power button for Windows 8 Metro. Here's a workaround for those that miss it.
Good Read How to Create a Shutdown Shortcut in Windows 8 (Varun Kumar, WindowsClub)
New Windows 8 users all struggle to work out how to shutdown their PC. Varun explains how to create a simple shortcut to do it for you.
Good Read Windows 8 Gives New Life to Older Hardware (Karl Schifflet, Microsoft)
Karl describes his experience installing Windows 8 on an older PC, and includes a link to a patch to fix mouse issues with the new Expression Designer.
Good Read What to do if the Bluetooth Keyboard Stops Working with Windows 8 (Laurent Bugnion)
If your Build tablet keyboard suddenly stops working, you will probably find Laurent's post about how he fixed the problem a bit of a life-saver.
Good Read Install Windows 8 on Mac OS Using VMWare Fusion (The Windows Club)
It's all in the title!
Good Read Windows 8 Tip: Windows Key Shortcuts (Paul Thurrott)
Another day, another blog post about keyboard shortcuts. Thing is they're needed for those of us without tablets, and Paul has more complete explanations than those I've seen previously posted.
Good Read New Javascript Editing Tools in Visual Studio 2012 (Xinyang Qiu, MSDN)
Nice demo screenshots of each of the new features, mainly around much improved Intellisense. Includes an invitation to request additional features before VS2012 RTM.
OK Hello Tiles: A Simple C# Sample Application (Amazed Saint)
Heavily retweeted post that takes one of the Microsoft Javascript Metro examples and presents it as a C# Example. Make sure you read my comment to the post for a missing step that will cause compilation to fail! Personally I'm not a fan of simple tutorials that have you just blindly type code without really explaining the classes being used and why.
OK 1st Metro Theme with Tutorial
A first Metro theme is released, with a tutorial for getting started. Somewhat of a convoluted download but probably worth the effort (didn't get time to go through it).

Today's "Fun Stuff" Links

Good Read Will Windows 8 be 'Good' or 'Shit' (Alex Krakovertskyi)
In one diagram Alex explains why it's not looking 'Good' for Windows 8.
Good Read Real Time Metro App Dev Stats (Koen Zwikstra)
Silverlight Spy's author has hooked up a page that monitors the number of Windows 8 forum posts that are XAML vs Javascript -based. The results may surprise you.

Fast and fluid News

Don't forget that all the latest Windows 8 Metro links are posted in 'real time' on the Fast and fluid Twitter account.
The Fast and Fluid Podcast, covering all things Windows 8 related, will be launched later this month.

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