Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Daily Review #9: Is Windows 8 The Last Windows?

The Daily Review - 27th September 2011
Photo © Shawn Hempel | Dreamstime.com

Is Windows 8 The Last Windows?

OK, so maybe that title is a little sensational. My excuse is that it's the title Simon Bisson used in today's 'Must Read' blog post The Last Windows?

I think he overstates the case, but there are signs that the 'death' of Windows - at least as we know it today - is not far off.

Of course pundits have been pointing out that Windows and Office and the whole desktop application concept is living on borrowed time, and that 'borrowed time' has been shortened by the predominance of Apple and Google over the last few years.

Now it seems Microsoft itself is doing the shortening!

The point Simon makes is that with its introduction of contracts in Metro the operating system is one based primarily on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and "inviolate APIs", presented as a subscription system that Microsoft have control over (where before developers wrote their own interfaces). In such a world, he argues, "the desktop is just another application".

After years of promise, the increasing dominance of mobile has forced Microsoft down the SOA route right at its very core. Windows 8 may not be the end of Windows, but it's certainly the beginning of the end of Windows as we've long known it.

Some think this whole move away from the legacy 'desktop application' world view is an over-simplification, but I think Simon makes a very strong case.

The reality is that mobile is now where it's at, and Microsoft have had decreasing market share and influence in this space. The rot set in when they took two to three years to recognise the impact of the iPhone. By the time the company got their act together it was too late, as the pitiful sales, despite strong critical reviews, of Windows Phone 7 have proved.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Microsoft didn't learn from that experience, pooh-poohing the iPad in the same way (Ballmer's infamous dismissal of it as an irrelevance, insisting that what people wanted was Windows and a stylus on their tablets, two months after it started shipping), so that it's more than a year after the iPad first shipped and completely changed the market that they've announced their plans for a competing product THAT'S AT LEAST A YEAR AWAY FROM SHIPPING.

Oh dear!

No Silverlight sessions at Virtual Tech

It's not as if the writing wasn't on the wall from the get-go. Back in 2009 it was estimated that 3.6 billion people, in a world population of just over 6 billion, had access to a mobile device, with 1.6 billion (25% of the world's population) having access to the web through a mobile device.

Those figures aren't that interesting, but what's more interesting is the figures for desktop internet access at the same time.

As Brian Fling pointed out in his 2009 book Mobile Design and Development (O'Reilly Press) "just 1.1 billion have access to internet-connected desktop computers". Even before the launch of the iPad, mobile was the bigger market.

A market Microsoft had, and still has, no real foothold in.

More than two years on, you can be sure the ratio of those desktop vs mobile figures have significantly changed - and NOT towards the desktop!

For those who've followed an SOA approach in their application design, the 'death' of Windows, or the 'desktop app' is good news. They are well positioned to take advantage of those 1.1 billion users AND the larger number of mobile users with internet access. Windows 8 is now (finally) going down the same route, and the real message in Simon's piece is not the death of Windows, but the 'coming of age' (finally!) of the SOA dream.

Metro Apps are just like COM

Today's "News" Links

Must Read! Signing in to Windows 8 with a Windows Live Id (Stephen Sinofsky, Microsoft)
Stephen Sinofsky's blog details the Windows Live Id/Windows 8 integration, with a nice video demo too. Maintain your Windows and Metro settings across all your devices!
Good Read! Miguel de Icaza Talks About Windows 8 an the Failure of Linux on the Desktop (Tim Anderson)
Interesting interview where Miguel says he thinks Linux has blown it on the desktop. 'Interested in porting Metro apps to iOS and Adroid?' He's not going to spend any time on WinRT for other systems apparently.
Good Read! UEFI Secure Boot Part 2 (Matthew Garrett)
The source of the whole 'Linux won't run with Windows 8' spate of articles last week responds to Microsoft's blog post on the subject. "What's interesting is that at no point do they contradict anything I've said." is his unimpressed verdict.
Good Read! Introducing the Microsoft Build Conference Webinar Series (Chris Woodruff)
Every Thursday for the next few weeks Chris is going to be running a series of webinars with the key take-aways from this year's Build conference.
Good Read! Windows 8 and the Client Hypervisor (Sean Donahue)
Sean speculates on what client-based Hypervisor-V in Windows 8 might actually mean.
Good Read! How Microsoft Windows 8 Will Sync Users Settings and Apps (Mary Jo Foley, Ziff-Davies)
Mary Jo looks at the latest Microsoft announcement (see News Links) and gives her opinions.

Today's "Opinion" Links

Must Read! The Last Windows? (Simon Bisson, Ziff-Davies)
Metro changes things. It's all about the contracts and the SOA!
Good Read! Moving from Silverlight to MVC3 (Jonathan van de Veen, CodeProject)
After two and a half years blogging about 'Enterprise Adventures in Silverlight', Jonthan's jumping ship and moving to ASP.NET MVC and HTML5. Here he explains why, but heh! it's OK Silverlight isn't dead ;-).
Good Read! Silverlight's Fate: Don't let Microsoft's Silence Fool You (InfoWorld)
Nice source that quotes several of the high profile bloggers about why Silverlight will still be around for a year or two yet.
Good Read! A Brief History of Five TouchSmart Generations: Pioneering Ideas for Windows 8 (Geek Tie Guy)
Live tiles, fixed layout sizes for apps, parallax scrolling with an expandable space and touch-first design - all pioneered by HP before Windows 8 arrived on the scene. Nice history of HP UX, but the link to Windows 8 seems a little tenuous.
Good Read! Microsoft Employees Allegedly Left in Droves during Ballmer's Company Meeting Speech (Tom Warren, WinRumours)
I suspect the most import word here is 'allegedly'.
OK Read! Microsoft Windows 8: Already Misunderstood! (R. Chase Razabdouski, The Examiner)
Short post saying the mainstream pundits have got it wrong. Apparently they are all just Apple fanboi's. Me, I think it's too early to call yet.
OK Read! Building on the Momentum of Build (Steve Clayton, MSFT)
Steve Clayton was impressed by Sam Moreau's Build talk on 'Designing Metro Style: Principles and Personality'. So was I.

Today's "Technical" Links

Good Read! Problems Connecting to Windows 8 VMs Isn’t Related to Developer Previews; Windows 2008 R2 SP1 Is at Fault (Roger Jennings, OakLeaf Systems)
Nice source that quotes several of the high profile bloggers about why Silverlight will still be around for a year or two yet.
Good Read! Running the Windows 8 Developer Preview on Microsoft Virtualization (Ben Armstrong, Microsoft)
Ben has a fix for Hyper-V on Windows Server 2008 R2. And Virtual PC/Virtual Server support? "There is nothing more to say there" apparently.
Good Read! Running the Windows 8 Developer Preview on Microsoft Virtualization (Timmy Kokke)
Timmy continues his illustrated walkthrough of features in the new preview version of Exprssion Blend.
Good Read! Lighting Up Your C# Metro Apps By Enabling Search Part 1 (Derek Whittaker, Devlicio.us)
First of a three part series that looks at the new Search 'Contract' features available in Metro.

Today's "Fun Stuff" Links

Good Read! Google Gravity
An interesting variation on the Google home page.

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