Enterprise Adoption & Windows 8 Hijackings.

In a business today there is a sales team who are out on the road or in a customers cubicle giving the said sales pitch about their vNext software. The sales pitch is a normal one filled with roadmap breakdowns, price adjustments and depending on whether the company had a descent designer on staff - screenshots that make you either turn in disgust or clap excitedly at the new coat of green. A question finally emerges from the customer, it centeres around the one area they are most likely dreading being asked - “What’s your web and/or mobility story going forward?” Since Microsoft has pretty much announced a big slab of chaos for each and every development team world wide around their failure (WPF and Silverlight) this in turn has created a a bit of a churn across more and more .NET product teams. They realise upfront WPF/Silverlight are dead and with mobility solutions like the iPad being more and more disruptive amongst staff within their customers customer, it’s back to the platform adoption drawing board for many large to small software vendors.

Native vs Web.

The sales team will eventually make their way back to the in-house software team and ask them to come up with an answer to “what’s our mobility story on the web?” which at first seems like a query around “web based mobility”. That’s the error, as what’s being asked is a case of firstly how can you deliver a solution on the web and touch as many platforms without having to fork your code-base or design experience (reduce cost). Secondly what Mobile platform do we target and why. The development teams will now go off and explore a few options and somewhere along the lines they’ll stumble on Phonegap and maybe even KendoUI (if you’re in the .NET scene that is). You’ll avoid JQuery Mobile because someone at a UserGroup told you it’s a bad day ahead but overall you’ll shout Victory initially as you’ve found a solution that rules the day across all platform(s). You in turn go web-native, that is you build using HTML + JavaScript and spit out a few basic LOB apps that mimic the Native UI on iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, Android and so on. It almost feels as if it was a little to easy. Some may even cheat by avoiding having to do any of the above and simply slap Citrix on to the iPad and VPN into a Silverlight/WPF experience you already made and make the user fumble their way through two layers of glass to achieve a native like experience. The above strategy will work for a while. That is until you want to do more than just fake your way throughout your experience (dont get me wrong with enough patience and built-in JavaScript forgiveness, in the right hands it can do some pretty impressive things). Eventually though, Native becomes the forbidden fruit. You want to get a bit more performance or scale in a way that makes sense to the device and less to the fake-it until you make-it revolutions you seem to be spinning on. Now comes the hard question, which device and why.

Platform Adoption - Use Case.

Garnter’s VP recently came out and stated that 80% of businesses by 2013 will be outfitting staff essentially with an iPad like device. It’s a pretty bold stat and you have to remember that Gartner get paid to come up with research by companies that need the said research to abstract their sales pitch from bised to unbiased opinion - that being said - it’s not unreasonable to believe what he stated. Picking up a mobile device like an iPad at first seems like it’s a toy, or unnessary for variety of industries as they will never replace a desktop device. An assumption like this will be short lived in most large companies that are weighing up their platform decision making. Firstly concept of an iPad in the hands of an after hours worker is more valuable than a laptop. The main reason is they are carrying the device around with them and are more likely to whip it out during a dinner with friends than a laptop or slate (excuse me while I take out my laptop, no continue talking vs let me look at this device that almost to the untrained eye gives you the appearance i’m checking the bill for our dinner folder thingy). The worker opens the device, performs some quick “at a glance” review of the data within their company, see’s no urgent issues and continues to go about their evening. Having First response reactions are highly valuable and will be the likely first candidate for mobility in most verticals. It’s more to do with the psychology of the device than its possibilities that is to say you could shift a lot of your desktop solutions onto an iPad-like experience but it won't’ happen until organisations wrap their heads around Security and how they plan to break up their current desktop experience(s) into more finite pieces. Security will be the biggest sticking point initially and UX Technology adoption aside, it comes back to the fear that if a user were to leave the said device at a dinner table then people can shut down a factory or steal intellectual property from a company faster than if they were on say a laptop (yes it's retarded but you know there’s a Security jackass in some IT Division scaring the kids with just that scenario and getting traction). A company will in turn dip their toes in the water, they’ll use Frist Response workflow / process as a way to see if this whole Mobile thing has legs from an investment standpoint and technical adoption acid test.

Platform Adoption - Development Teams.

Assuming you jump over the pitfalls with choosing “why” you need mobility in your company next comes the how one will build solutions to backup the “why”. Like i said most companies will ignore the mountains of research that showed AJAX as a bad idea for LOB apps and instead be mesmerized by the new pretty Orange Shield logo known as HTML5. Like a beaten housewife they will return back to their room of pain with all the promises of “it’s changed now, it’s not as bad as it used to be” and sure there’s some frameworks now out there that have gotten a bit more code added to them to almost forget the fact you’re writing HTML and JavaScript (almost). However, I’d wager big dollars that before long the horns of retreat will blast form within the cubicles of software development teams world wide and they will in turn look for more native-like experience(s) to seek refuge. Companies at this point have probably drowned a few developers for their late delivery and like a drug addict who’s won the lottery in vegas - spent a small fortune on a lot of good ideas at the time strategies. At this point one has to decide how they will navigate the current Platform arena. On one hand you’re going to have to figure out a way to enable 1x Team of developers to write an App for all devices. That will come up with a very short list of possibilities if none at all. Next comes the last desperate refuge whereby the said people will in turn reduce the friction and ask that the target platforms be scaled back, that is “let’s just write for an iPad” style thinking. Problem here is companies that want to target all platforms will in turn likely have to invest in staffing up individual platform-specific teams that don’t x-platform develop. It’s a new day really when that happens as typically most companies traditionally like to place a bet on a single platform as the primary choice (aka .NET). None the less people better start warming up to the idea of there being an iOS team, Android Team and lastly Modern UI ..(big f`k you to Microsoft for screwing up Metro branding) Team.

Platform Adoption - Windows 8 Hijack.

Having forked browser discussions or worse having forked staffing of development teams is about as interesting to a large company right now as letting users have free access to an iPad without a SOE lock down. The reality is right now any adoption bet a company makes is likely to be repaved post Windows 8 sales begin as weird as that sounds? If you look at Windows 8 today you’ll see the Google Chrome Logo color scheme spread out into a bunch of Boxes that are basically fluff for the consumer. A few people out there will get all excited about the Metro - err..Modern UI - style experience(s). Companies who have a solid bet on .NET however will be keeping a very close eye on how you can hijack the consumer experiences to suit their agenda(s). Just like in the Original XBOX or Kinect release in which Microsoft had expected the market do X in turn users ended doing mods/hacks to use it for their own needs. A company facing a mobility crisis as the one they are facing today will see past the mickey mouse Windows 8 UI layer and instead hijack it for their own needs. Giving users the ability to wet their appetite with .NET level code on Win8 devices will be enough to hold the door open in the potential “if we don’t build a mobile/web story our competitors and/or customers will kill us” door closing campaigns. That in itself is an interesting thought to let fester, what if Windows 8 saves the Enterprise from having to decide on HTML5/Android/iOS? What if the .NET kids simply keep pumping out a WPF like solution but on a device. Wait, I just looked around and it occurred to me. It’s already happening only downside is they need a way to kill off the Windows 8 AppStore experience and revert back to a “my app will be all you need for this new Surface hardware you have in front of you”. Windows 8 will have a yearly upgrade path, there will be a subscription model that works like it did with OSX Lion and if you combine both Apple payment ideas with Silverlight’s deployment model you have a fairly good enoug Windows 8 story that will keep Business occupied long enough for the merging of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Enterprise Customer Client Thingy story. I’d wager that if business does uptake on Windows 8 they will force Microsoft into a reactive situation where they’ll likely have to sacrifice features set for consumers only and instead opt for Enterprise (which is where they will make their unit sales through the most).

Related Posts:

  • TL;DR version?

  • Enterprise will look for a device that doesn’t require a lot of effort to skill up to make apps for. Win8 will be the closest device they can find because .NET DNA lingers there… They will adopt it the moment they can remove the Win8 Metro UI and swap it out for their own. Done.

  • So, laziness wins…again 🙂 I would really hate ripping M**** style, it is actually nice and fluid and can appear very business friendly.

    I am curious, what did you mean by AJAX not being suitable for LOB apps? Can you provide further info?

  • So what else is new, this is the eternal issue with Microsoft the need to branch out vs maintaining backwards comparability. Very few firms want to leave what they’re used to and will fight even if it destroys it in the process.  

  • David Elyk

    For the first time in my 30+ year programming career I have
    no idea what platform I will be developing on next year.

    Ever since I started using Microsoft’s C compiler (the first
    one wasn’t even version 1, the concept of version numbers hadn’t been invented
    yet) Microsoft always laid out a clear development strategy to developers and
    it was ALWAYS a safe bet, and it worked.

    And it was better than all the other guys’ products.


    Now on the eve of Microsoft’s newest Operating System I feel
    left out in the dark and abandoned by them.

    No communications, no vision, no assurances, just a stone
    cold silence.

    Scott Guthrie has been banished to the Cloud. I’m too scared
    to try that because the pricing models are too complicated. Instance Models,
    General Availabilities, Clock Hours, Small Instance Hours, Virtual Machines,
    good luck to anyone that can figure all that stuff out.

    I teach software engineering at a polytechnic institute
    where my students learn Client/Server business application development using
    Web Forms, Silverlight and MVC.

    We were developing with ASP and HTML and JavaScript in 1997,
    that was 15 YEARS AGO and Microsoft seems bent on forcing us to forget
    everything we’ve learned since then and jump on the HTML5/JavaScript train.

    What Microsoft does not seem to understand is that by peddling
    their Generic Crap that is the same as everyone else’s they have removed any
    sort of incentive for anyone to buy their stuff.

    So many brilliant ideas have been tossed out the window, it’s
    just sad.

    And writing the HTML5+JavaScript code is actually the easy
    part. How to make it maintainable, debuggable and reusable, I don’t even know
    how to begin doing that.

    What I don’t really understand, at all, is why the @#$%@#$
    Microsoft didn’t simply update the existing technologies to emit HTML5? Then
    developers could choose to continue making their Apps the way they always did
    or make the fancy new Metro Apps if there was a practical business reason to do

     My management has been asking us for a 5 year plan for the last two years, and I’m still not any closer to being able to offer one.

  • I am glad to find this stuff, very impressive one!!

  • D

    As usual very thought provoking post and spot on in many ways.  I think the lack of consideration given to ASP.NET in all of its flavors for the 4.5 release is a telling sign that it won’t be long before M$ rolls out its replacement as well.  Client side development is dead.  Working for a global corporation for 15 years is evidence enough to me that client side doesn’t need to exist for internal – intranet web apps to take their place.  That said, ASP.NET, web forms in particular, was the boon for rapid development of complex web apps that just got the job done and saved a lot of jobs from being outsourced.    Viewstate – blah who cares on the intranet, but outside of that then yes ok I get it, but don’t use it then.  MVC and WebPages, ok try to steal Rails and PHP developers but couch it as better development methodologies because web forms doesn’t fit TDD properly or hey don’t put everything in the code behind or now view(that’s heresy) – whatever – that hasn’t worked and the IDE is now supporting doing development in PHP so who really is winning?  But overall the innovation has left and by that Scott G is effectively gone, now turned into a traveling salesman – a great technical mind made into a less than great salesman – still an awesome guy in my book, but not in the role that he deserves.  So what is the future – custom web app development may eventually go the way of Metro – err Modern UI development and that is HTML/CSS/JS.  M$ will bake enough js libraries that talk to the OS layer/Node.js and then wrap them in packaging so we build web apps with that approach – but is that really all it will be.  Doubtful and this returns to the late 90s as they tie it to IE as working best or the only way.  Hey they want to make sales of software right so tie it once again to their stack and bastardize javascript to their own needs and sell it.  They’ve done it before so looking for that next chapter – a recycled chapter to be written.  Only way they would learn that is not acceptable is if developers developers developers leave leave leave.
    Thanks Scott B for putting forth thought provoking posts.