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Windows 8 : Making new friends, Ratcheting Momentum and influencing anger.

After just having a discussion with a journalist today, a question was put to me that I felt I should share some more information around – Why do you think the developers appear to be angry with Windows 8?

It is not that I think developers are angry about code name "Windows 8" being well HTML5/JavaScript friendly in fact it is probably one of those situations where you would easily go "great, not for me but hey who knows how things turn out down the road". It is also not the fact that Microsoft have come out and hinted strongly at the idea of dropping marketing support for .NET going forward in favor of HTML5/JavaScript cocktail of weirdness.

I think what’s happening is developers across the globe in what appears to be millions now (currently on Silverlight.net forums there’s a few threads ratcheting around 11million views – which is 11x the traffic per month that site gets) all basically releasing a lot of pent-up annoyance at the communication blackout – yet again.

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I think this is a case of "the last straw" and it has been lurking for quite some time about Microsoft and a consistent amount of failings around corporate communication 101. To some this appears on the surface to be some idiot in PR being asleep at the helm again (keep in mind often Microsoft outsources its PR to companies like Waggener Edstrom) and so it could be a case of a room full of people pointing at one another for the "what do we say" moment(s). I highly doubt that, I’d wager this is an executive decision and its likely driven by the concept of ratcheting customer momentum for a final reveal in September.

Note: I recently had the VP of Corporate Communications for Microsoft follow me on Twitter post the Windows 8 Fallout(s)…. Why?

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Creating a disruption in the market with the sole intended purpose of getting people around the world to talk more about you in mixed emotions isn’t a brilliant new tactic – it was done in the Windows 7 launch with the Jerry Seinfiled ads that Microsoft bet around $300million on.   Realistically this strategy can often work (we’ve used this formula a few times with Silverlight in the early days) but at the same time it’s what I’d class as a high risk strategy given you could scare people too much.

This is of course speculation as at the end of the day the more Microsoft staffs I talk to internally about this the more I get the growing sense that majority of the staff internally are also in a complete blackout as well. Insiders within Microsoft are telling me that they are both concerned and frustrated at the lack of information coming from Team Sinofsky to the point where they are not interested in whether or not .NET lives or dies but how the heck they are going to clean up after this reveal occurs.

I probed further and asked what kind of convincing points are needed in order to illustrate to the presidential overlords that having 11million+ views all seeing the words ".NET" and "Dead" is probably not a smart play here and short of announcing .NET 5.0 at //BUILD/ you’re digging a very large hole. The response that I later got forwarded to me was one from an executive that stated that unless they see major accounts being withdrawn all that really is happening is interest and group of developers getting emotional about it all.

Yeah, my first impression was "what a jackass" but having sat in similar meetings like this when Adobe AIR was first considered a major threat to Microsoft, all I can say is that’s exactly how the company thinks at a higher level. It’s a numbers game, and hearing stories like "my friend just told me they are moving away because of this" small stories don’t add up to situations like the US Govt calling Microsoft to say "Yeah, the whole .NET confusion thing is something we aren’t happy with and so we’ll be moving to Java/Oracle – thanks bye" moments aren’t flowing just yet or likely to.Measuring account losses due to an event is somewhat hard as deep at your core you can see that the potential is definitely there despite the deafening "the sky is falling!!" emotions running high.

The reality is its unlikely to create havoc for at least a few years should they come out and say tomorrow ".NET is dead, thx" as looking at Windows XP & Internet Explorer 6 its obvious that Microsoft technology is very hard to kill of even with official announcements.

What is the TAX then? What is the one thing you can beat Microsoft around the head with that will send some sense to Redmond?

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Developers, Developers, Developers is that answer.

Microsoft are losing a battle in replenishing the .NET developer share, it’s alleged that for every 1x .NET developer that departs the Microsoft ecosystem there should be at least 2x more to fill their shoes. The reality it’s the opposite – allegedly.

Ok, so we highlight the depletion of the ranks and state "..if you continue scare the kids with the comms blackout that number will increase! And so you be able to control the depletion rates.."

That will not work either, as HTML5 and JavaScript is a nice big juicy cake to sink ones potential teeth into. As the big bet is that if you can convince the world’s developer base – the ones NOT using .NET today – to jump onboard with the new Windows8 concoction called Metro meets HTML5/JavaScript across all screens. Bing! (No pun intended) you just got a completely new market share you did not have yesterday.

That is the bet at the moment, win hearts and minds with a unified platform the world has agreed upon across all languages – HTML and JavaScript.  Sadly, the .NET developer base is being used right now as collateral damage and is considered acceptable loses.

This is dangerous game being played and all the years I’ve been involved in Microsoft this is by far the most interesting and distracting time for the company. In under 48hrs in my opinion Team-Steve managed to undermined and undo a total of three years work by the various people within the Silverlight teams so should the reveal in September be a case of "Look we were just kidding, here’s our roadmaps going forward.." it would still set Silverlight back quite a lot in terms of regaining what marketing momentum is left for the product.

The reality is Silverlight’s marketing & evangelism has been severely reduced from where it once was and the products are now in auto-pilot mode (aka "they are now matured" which is code word for being bored with it).

Evangelism efforts are going to have to dig deep post reveal on September and to be openly honest their record lately for influencing the influencers has been murky if not non-existent. It’s a contact sport Evangelism and I’ve noticed in the past 2-3 years more so that the steam it once had has diminished quite significantly (due to budget cut-backs and basically VP of DPE – Walid Abu-Hadba driving the entire practice into the ground).

It is not that people are angry, they are confused and disappointed.

Let’s hope this bet pays of Team-Steve as the guy before you made a big bet as well. The last we heard of him now is that he’s trying to make it into the music scene so one hopes you’ve learnt to play guitar Mr Sinofsky ;)

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