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 - 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).
It’s Kool Aid Time: this year’s batch is Raspberry.When I read posts like these, I simply shake my head and admittedly get a little annoyed at the existence of such posts. More to the point, I’m also getting weary of seeing MVP’s of the Silverlight of yesterday flipping the script and now putting out a public audition for WinRT MVP auditions. I get the mindset that often goes into these style posts, and in many ways you have to give these folks credit, as they have simply have moved on. Unfortunately like most people inside cubicles around the world, the luxury of riding the new wave(s) is often restricted to a small cluster of adopters and influencers. You know these people: they are usually the same people on stage at a conference somewhere telling you what you’re doing wrong and how you should adopt vNext tech to do better.
Back to reality.I’ve been at the birth of a new technology; I’ve been in a team that spent millions on marketing and seeding the new technology to over 6 million .NET devs and around 500 million PC’s worldwide. You could say I’ve seen a lot and learnt a lot from that experience. The one consistent ingredient to seeding a technology is what we collectively call the “influencer”. The idea is you round up a bunch of Community Leaders, you shower them with Glass Awards, titles like MVP, or at the very least make them feel important or as your “favorite”, and then you get them to tell people your message (as the theory is that this in turn adds authenticity to your message). When I was an Evangelist, I went from being an unknown non-.NET developer in an Adobe/Macromedia scene, to being suddenly invited to speak at Microsoft Conferences, Twitter Followings, Facebook Friend Requests, Invites to Business Deals/Meetings and so on. You feel as if you’re now the one being dated whilst at the same time you in turn make others feel the same the ripples of influence continue. That’s how you artificially pump a community up around a technology adoption. There are different flavors to the approach, but ultimately, your job is to become a band manager and not the rock stars (you scale more).
The messaging framework.When the time comes where you need to broadcast your message to the crowd of followers, your main focus is to ensure you get traction around repeatable messaging. That is to say, you ensure that you all sing from the same hymn sheet and with enough repetition this message will be the consistent soundbyte you hear at a local conference near you. For example:
- Silverlight isn’t dead; it will be around for 20 years.
- You can take your Silverlight skills today and reuse them with Win8 tomorrow, as in the end it's just XAML and C#, right?
- And so on..
Change is the enemy.That’s how you flip the script; that’s how you get people to stop looking behind and start thinking about what’s coming up. You can shift an entire community from the old to new in under 2-3 years using that formula mixed with enough conference blitz, blog post(s) and so on. This is, however, all a false sense of change. That is to say at the conference / front lines, it looks as if things are moving forward fast, quick everyone get on the new wave! At the cubicle level, the environment that when the conference etc. is over and everyone retreats back to their various developer enclosures. They are still likely staring at WinForms, Windows XP, WPF, Silverlight and so on for the next 1-2 years minimum. This is where the thinking around change truly festers, as now it’s less about having XAML and C# skills but more about how to use them in an upcoming project. The bottom line is if you are writing Silverlight/WPF, the very notion or idea that you can transfer your skills in 2-3 years when Windows 8 dust settles is really pie in the sky broad stroke thinking. Today, you have to File-New Silverlight/WPF Project, as it’s realistically the environment in which you are likely to get success in this .NET space. You could go down the path of HTML/JS and really get ready for devices of tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow, this is today. Silverlight is at the end of it’s life, and in turn anything that takes a dependency on it is sure to decay over the next year or so. Windows 8 is not a desktop release; it’s a tablet release. The future around how Windows 8 plays a role in businesses of tomorrow is still a huge unknown. Microsoft really needs to stop switching gears so fast here. If the future is to gravitate towards the next wave, then fine. Change is good, yet do so in a manner that has clarity attached. Stop hiding behind the sound bytes of the usual muffin eaters at the same conference(s). Stop just abandoning the toys of today because they aren’t as shiny as the ones you make tomorrow. Spend more time in the transition or bridging between the old wave and the new wave, whilst lastly settle on a message around how you transfer and not throwaway messaging of “well if you know how to write code you can write better code tomorrow”. I think it's clear we all can learn a language or two. That’s not the point, the point is: What incentive do I have to relearn (or go backwards in) in order to move forward? WinRT is Silverlight 1.1 or 2.0 when it comes to development experiences. Windows Phone 7 Development vs. Windows 8 Development isn’t as clear as it could be. Lastly, if Silverlight has no more releases left in it, then how do other products like Lightswitch, Expression Blend, Visual Studio, etc. get affected by the end of life stigma?
I got word of a leaked email early yesterday that confirmed what I had been told in passing gossip – the XAML team being disbanded.
This morning I awoke to not just one email but five of them from my various sources all attached with mixed opinions on what it means. Here is my famous (internally in Microsoft, I would send these style of emails about Adobe and their competitive threats) "What Just Happened" response.
We're pleased to announce the transition of the XAML
platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team. While the
team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project,
this step brings them into our team formally.
It is time to start moving the battleships into the attack formation. In that time to start the consolidation into the new ux platform we are about to remake again.
On the upside it means you have a consolidated outcome likely to hit our hard-drives in the next 2-3 years on the downside you have what I would call a technology freeze in effect. If the new iteration of WPF or Silverlight does not comply with the vNext vision, do not hold your breath for a new announcement anytime soon that does not involve Windows 8 future(s).
The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned
and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us
to bring together our platform development team in a single-management
That doesn’t sound to bad, I mean on the surface its just a single management restructure. A day in the life of a Microsoftee where every fiscal year or often more than once you are given new managers because the strategy - scratch that – tactics have changed. That in itself is probably your biggest hint of all around the word commitment, this is not just a case of waiting for a restructure to occur once every 5 years – it happens often.
To clarify, do you keep swapping your generals around in war to the point where the troops effectively stop caring who they are reporting to? Probably not a smart idea but nonetheless.
The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the
team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are:
• Sujal Parikh, Development Manager
• Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager
• Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager
The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving
this mail and have received communication on next steps.
If most of you who have been involved in the Silverlight ethos are reading then the name, Joe Stegman will probably stand out the most. Joe’s background in the .NET space goes back a ways but in the end Joe’s really been one of the guys under the hierarchy crust of commitment pledges keeping things in the development side of things in check. Officiating his role further in this equation for me is a bit puzzling as it’s kind of the same thing different org tree?
These changes in leadership and organization are
effective today. For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and
the performance review process the team will operate under the existing
That is a swift maneuver. Nothing surprising though.
Now onto Soma’s email to the troops which kicked the previous email off (Notice how VP’s etc all pile on from one another with "what he said was.." like somehow being apart of the thread is being seen as a role of importance. Classic Microsoft Victory Email formula, just once I’d like them to send out just one email outlining the change. This is what I’m talking about when I say Microsoft Culture is retarded.
Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team
has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that
have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an
instrumental part of delighting our developer customers. The agility and
customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a
pleasure to watch.
Ooops. Btw this was supposed to be confidential. So do not tell anybody.
Over the last couple of years? From memory, I recall WPF being around for more than a couple of years? Never mind, I keep forgetting everyone internally has forgotten about WPF.
Soma is kind of saying, "thanks for the hard work troops, you managed to outpace most products in Microsoft with your constant brilliance around the word agility, which being said here comes the but to that placating statement.
Today, we are making some organization changes to bring
our platform technologies under a single management structure. These
changes are centered around three focus areas:
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will
move to Windows.
• The team working on XAML technologies for Windows
Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone.
• The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows
Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv.
These changes are all effective immediately. From a
performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under
the DevDiv organization model.
"Today marks a new day troops, for we storm a new beach" is kind of the response to that next piece.
Firstly you have parts of the XAML team(s) parked inside the Windows organization. First impressions on twitter are that "Way to go! Means XAML and Windows are finally going to get along and create awesome XAML experiences"
Have I not shown you the Annie video? Moreover, have I discussed the Orphan Syndrome? "My dad’s going to come for me, he’s rich you…you..you just wait and see"
To me that read as being a case of cherry picking parts of the team to socket into the windows division and their new coding charter will come next. If it involves XAML it will be based around what XAML vNext is likely to be – HTML5 meets Jupiter.
Same with the Phone team, it is what I would call "please standby for further orders" moments.
As for the tooling teams, well you got Cider and Expression Blend team is what that really comes back to. Given most of the Client employees have left, I am not sure what that means suffice to say I am not holding out for a new release for Sketchflow for starters and I am guessing that the Blend teams are not exactly getting high fives for poor sales and download rates to date. If I were in that team, I would be updating my LinkedIn account quickly.
I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the
great work that they have done over the years. Moving forward, I'm very
excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform
teams. There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part
of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to
seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers.
Remember when Mary Jo posted a while back on how Kevin Gallo would be taking over the reins of Scott Guthrie. That’s probably the quickest promotion and I’m not ready to say demotion but I’m not ready to say continuance either – that I’ve seen?
The positive part there is the "next wave of platform releases" that sounds a lot like a continuation of what we have in front of us. Make no mistake there will be a Silverlight 5 and a WPF vNext released next fiscal, its already got most of the code done and it would be foolish to not release those when they can – especially after MIX2011.
Releasing those two would also buy you time for the next 2 fiscals at most. As by doing this you create this calming effect around "see, we’re still working on it..honest" to placate the developer hordes.
That is up to you, you can buy into that sure, and it is hard to debunk given there is not much visibility behind what we are likely to see next – especially given this is tradition within the Microsoft roadmap(s).
For me personally, I’d like to corner Microsoft If I could into giving more concrete assurances that whatever the next wave of bets are that they are either backwards compliance or have parity around what we have today in terms of conceptual features today.
Features for me are not will I be able to still hit F5 without changing code. Features for me are the concepts that are on the table today, around how one manages the out of browser and in-browser functionality – everything from casual gaming through to enterprise ready features (printing, isolated storage, data binding etc).
I think what has happened in this email is the equivalent of me saying "I really like this car, now can we take the wheels and put them over there. In addition, can you take the steering wheel and dashboard and put it over there. Lastly, can you take the engine and well. Just leave it in place for second; I’ll get back to you later on where we can put that next"
It’s clear there is a consolidation happening that I think we can all agree on early. How will the consolidation impact the average .NET developer is likely to be dramatic enough to warrant some applications having to have code refactored down the track – you will not escape that sorry.
Does this mean .NET is dead? Who actually knows what .NET vNext will be so it is hard to simply say "yes" and it could very well be a reset of .NET to fix a lot of pent up frustration in the way it sticks together today.
What I am certain of is WPF is definitely officially done. The chance of WPF going beyond what it is today is slim. Some journalists etc. will gloss over this as its not news but let me be clear in saying at Microsoft we really had no clue just how deeply seeded this product became.
In Australia it’s used quite heavily and it’s something I personally noticed whenever I used to travel around the country meeting Microsoft customers (both as an Evangelist and Product Manager). I used to send emails internally stating "I think we underestimated is usage, as it definitely appears to have more devs using than Silverlight" which was later brushed aside as being "Not realistic".
I think post September the announcements that are to follow will give these warnings probably some second thoughts around what parking WPF in the retired bay is likely to mean for Microsoft when it comes to the words "trust" and "commitment"
The product and developer satisfaction surveys for the last few years haven’t been something you’d brag about internally which for me indicates a strong sense of "fatigue" within the ranks of our beloved .NET developer communities.
It’s now one thing to announce what the next version of .NET will be its entirely different thing to convince and sell these fatigue customers that this is defiantly the bet this time. Silverlight, WPF and WinForm are available today and millions are shipping software solutions using them.
Microsoft now has to figure out a way to convince the millions that the "Windows 8" wave of vNext will fix all of these problems and more – and – will not require a reduction in feature parity along with extra boost in tooling.
If I know, my Microsoft and I like to think I do, good luck J
Full email below:
From: Julie Larson-Green Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:35 AM To: Grant George; Jon DeVaan; Julie Larson-Green; John Cable; Yves Neyrand; Craig Fleischman; Bambo C. Sofola; Scott Herrboldt; Greg Chapman; Julie Bennett; Jeff Johnson; Ales Holecek; Mohammed El-Gammal; Chuck Chan; Michael Fortin; Eric Traut; Jensen Harris; Linda Averett; Alex Simons (WINDOWS); Gabriel Aul; Dennis Flanagan; Iain McDonald; Samuel Moreau; Dean Hachamovitch; Michael Angiulo; Antoine Leblond; Tami Reller; Chris Jones (WINDOWS LIVE); Jonathan Wiedemann; Ulrike Irmler; Adrianna Burrows Cc: XAML Team; Kevin Gallo; S. Somasegar; Terry Myerson; Sharman Mailloux Sosa; Brad Fringer; Steven Sinofsky Subject: Please welcome the XAML platform team to Windows! We're pleased to announce the transition of the XAML platform team from the Developer Division to the Windows team. While the team has been working side-by-side with the Windows team for the entire project, this step brings them into our team formally. The team will continue their work on Windows 8 as planned and will join our Developer Experience (DEVX) team. This transition allows us to bring together our platform development team in a single-management structure. The dev, test, and pm leaders who will be leading the team reporting to AlesH, YvesN, and LindaAv are: • Sujal Parikh, Development Manager • Eduardo Leal-Tostado, Test Manager • Joe Stegman, Group Program Manager The leads and individuals joining our team are receiving this mail and have received communication on next steps. These changes in leadership and organization are effective today. For the purposes of finishing out the fiscal year and the performance review process the team will operate under the existing management structure. There will be an informal Q&A session today to welcome everyone and answer any questions that folks might have. • XAML team welcome – 2:00-3:00 in building 37/1701 Please join me in welcoming these folks to our organization! Julie From: S. Somasegar Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 9:16 AM To: Client and Mobile Team Cc: Developer Division FTE; Steven Sinofsky; Julie Larson-Green; Terry Myerson; David Treadwell Subject: Bringing together client platform efforts MICROSOFT CONFIDENTIAL Over the last couple of years, our Client and Mobile team has done a fantastic job of building a number of XAML related technologies that have been a huge value add to the Microsoft client platforms and an instrumental part of delighting our developer customers. The agility and customer focus that the team has demonstrated over the years has been a pleasure to watch. Today, we are making some organization changes to bring our platform technologies under a single management structure. These changes are centered around three focus areas: • The team working on XAML technologies for Windows will move to Windows. • The team working on XAML technologies for Windows Phone, Xbox and browser plugin will move to Windows Phone. • The Client and Mobile tools teams, including Windows Phone tools and XAML tools, will stay in DevDiv. These changes are all effective immediately. From a performance review perspective, we will do this year’s performance review under the DevDiv organization model. I want to thank Kevin Gallo and the team for all the great work that they have done over the years. Moving forward, I'm very excited to bring the client platform efforts closer to the platform teams. There is a lot of very exciting and critical work underway as part of our next wave of platform releases and I am very eagerly looking forward to seeing the team’s work in the hands of our developers and customers. The follow-up emails will provide more details on the changes to those impacted. Please join me in wishing Kevin and the team all the very best as we move forward. If you have any questions about this change, please let your manager or me know. -somasegar
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.."
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 😉
I’ve been watching the WPF Disciples list regarding FIXWPF with some obvious keen interest. The thread has taken on an interesting level of discussion and guys like Pete Brown are doing the right thing, listening, responding and taking notes.
Jaime however has jumped on and given the – we’ve heard it all before – riot act around the UX Platform guidance. You know the one, Good, Great and Ultimate splits sprinkled with “it depends” and basically comes around to the pitch that Microsoft is probably best known for around commitment pledges.
This isn’t an attack on Jaime, I’ve worked with him before and I liked his work in the past, as all he’s doing is talking to party lines and it will be the same guidance you are given no matter who you talk to inside Microsoft.
That being said the bulk of it is lip service and i’ll explain why.
RE: HTML5 vs Silverlight vs WPF (Good, Great and Ultimate).
This guidance is probably the oldest response to keeping the three pillars apart. It hasn’t changed in over 3 years and is unlikely until you see some dramatic increase in footprint regarding Internet Explorer 9 + HTML5.
The idea is to provide developers a linked approach to how the three dovetail with one another and when you look at it from the right angle it almost looks plausible. The reality however is it is poor guidance for one and secondly it doesn’t address the question.
The question really being asked is “which should I bet on” not “which is the right technology for the right job” as quite frankly for 80% of solutions out there i’d confidently state that all three could achieve your needs for line of business applications. The three each have their own taxes you will end up paying but welcome to software and that’s life.
Back to the question, which should you bet on and this is where the lip service falls short. As the question is also asking which is Microsoft likely to continue investing into – the fact that Jamie for example is no longer a full time WPF evangelist and is now in the Wp7 evangelism rhythms is an indication to that answer. No Microsoftie is going to come out and say “yeah, you better get off WPF unless your writing C++ bridges to .NET, as its going to get murky soon” as the last time a softie even hinted at that kind of raw honesty was Bob Muglia and he was a Senior Vice President – currently looking for a new job.
Choosing between the three really is coming down to your team mates, your needs and lastly your personal investment in learning / continuance in your career. They are really the three core principles involved in making the choice between the three and the usual good, great and ultimate speech has never really returned any hint on success – I dare Microsoft to provide evidence of success here.
If your team mates are all HTML developers with ASP.NET Web Forms skills, then the question they are all having is around which is the easiest and best route to success next. WPF can provide you a core foundation for Silverlight/WPF development but it will test your patience and confidence levels greatly. There is a lot of information decay online around which version of the framework/API still work today vs when they did in the past and lastly WPF seems to have more questions than Silverlight go unanswered – according to StackOverflow.com.
Silverlight is still up for grabs although its clearly shifted its strategy from when I was on the team to be more of a Windows Phone 7 platform and less about the web more so as time continues to flow.
My point is, its confusing and the usual lip service really doesn’t bode well for Microsofties as they come off looking like they are a PR machines for one and secondly any trust within WPF vs Silverlight discussion has been eroded due to constant shifts in vision – clearly it highlights that this has been and will continue to be highly tactical reactive product management and less strategic.
RE: Customers want us to invest more into Silverlight.
Jaime goes on to say:
First of all, a lot of our customers are telling us to invest more into Silverlight. Let’s say (again made up) that demand is 4-to 1. How do we justify a revamp of the graphics architecture in WPF. This is not trivial work; the expertise in this space is limited, we can’t clone our folks to 5x to meet everyone’s needs.
Unless Microsoft’s feedback channels have gone through a massive upgrade / radical change in the last 6 months, I call bullshit on that one. The customers are likely to be folks like NetFlix or Vertigo? (we have no real tangible customer feedback pipelines in Microsoft. It was a nightmare to sift through the chaos to get such answers) and secondly the reality of that comment is what I call “Oh dear, he didn’t say that” moment. If i was a journalist i would use that firstly as fodder for “See Microsoft just stated they have no interest investing into WPF” – not only would it be fair game, it’s obviously correct so it’s also not healthy right now.
It’s important to also add that if you starve a product of its marketing budget, then your overall awareness for the product is going to drop dramatically. It’s also fair to state that if the bulk of your attention across the board within the company is on Windows Phone 7 and Silverlight, then its even more likely the customer focus is skewed towards what you’ve been waiving and shaking your hands at the most. To use a metaphor “It’s like giving a child candy and then asking if they should give you more vegetables?”
My only real response to that question is who’s going to walk up to AutoDesk and tell them “Well, we could fix performance issues in 3DS MAX 2010 with you, but sorry, Silverlight is our preferred bet… best you figure out an alternative route filled with C++ and roll your own rendering pipeline".
Jaime goes on to address the likely cost of WPF
Let’s assume we did take on the work. My guess (again, I am not engineering) is that it would take two years to implement and thorougly test a release. At the stage that WPF is at, a rearchitecture or huge changes on the graphics stack would be 80% about testing and 20% about the dev work. It is not a trivial amount of work. Would we get the performance you want across myriad of devices? We don’t know. WPF bet on hardware, and there is new devices out there that are trading hardware for battery, weight, or simply for cost. it would suck to do that much work, make you wait a long time, and then not get there. Let’s get real on the asks; you say “improve perf” but you are asking us to do a “significant re-write”; these two asks are different.
He has a point, it would be a significant impact to the resources allocated to WPF to get it back to the core promise that was made in 2007 – trust us right? things keep changing? we don’t have a plan just right now, but as things happen we hopefully will!.
It’s a good thing that there are 200+ engineers right now ready to pounce on this problem so it should be a large amount of work, but with that many engineering cycles nothings not attackable according to Scott Guthrie, CVP of Developer Division.
That was a cheap shot Barnes! and it was. My response to Jaime’s remarks there would be “This affects me how?” as in the end you, Microsoft asked me to invest in you years ago. I did, and now you’re telling me its too hard and costly for you to invest back into me? how is that fair and again why am I trusting you over and over when you keep changing the rules? Is this not an abusive relationship now?
RE: We speak to customers.
Comments like this for me a red flags -
3) You are asking us to listen to our customers. We agree there and that is exactly what we are doing. Please keep in mind, you are not the only customer - even if you are my favorite one :)-.
The reason they are red flags as the response at the end of the day says “trust us, we have this covered” as nowhere does Microsoft really ever decompress what customers they have spoken to and any substantial numbers to support it. For all you know, NetFlix and Nokia are the two customers they spoke to and NetFlix executive being on the board of Microsoft whilst Nokia’s new CEO was one of the ex-executives at Microsoft – well you can see how easily you could tear the argument apart if you set about doing so.
The point is, there’s no response you can give as the actual comment is supposed to make you feel isolated and that what you’re saying really is most likely a vocal minority.
Here’s the real deal guys and pay attention to this one as it will bake your noodles. Inside Microsoft there is no one team that handles customer feedback. Multiple teams do it and they approach it from a variety of angles. In the entire time i was a Product Manager and Evangelist within the WPF/Silverlight teams I never once saw or even heard of a central database of customer feedback. The closest we had was an annual survey / report that we collected which gave a health check of the entire Microsoft brand & its products. It was quite shallow in gauging what customers wanted and it’s main purpose was to be used as a large measuring stick for all roles almost in Microsoft to gauge success/failure was per year.
The only way you would get data from customers was if you invited them to Redmond (which is effectively the same as a band inviting a fan over for dinner and asking them what they could do better) or you outsource your needs to a company like Adaptive Path, Forester, Gartner etc to come up with a survey / research around the topic at hand (Don’t be shocked folks, but Gartner Research can be bought for the right price).
Having a listening post inside Microsoft around what customers want or need is chaotic at best and it depends on who’s listening and what the initial agenda is – more so how it maps across. It has nothing to do with constructive feedback or channels of delivery as the higher the decision making goes the further the customer feedback gets from these decision makers.
RE: Let’s compromise?
Jaime does go on to discuss the compromise:
he WPF has looked at the trade-offs, and risk many times. We are also looking at what customers need. Jer, to you it is all about graphics. To many others, it is about data. So, how do we serve all customers??
The strategy is exactly what you have seen/heard:
1) WPF 4.5 is going to have some significant data binding performance improvements.
2) We are not redoing the graphics framework, but we are doing a lot of work to let you interoperate with lower level graphics so that if you need more graphics perf you can get it, and still keep the RAD of the rest of the framework.
I often see this style of response from Microsofties (hell, I used to give it). It’s one of those responses you just go “What the f… If you’re going to piss on my head from above at least have the courtesy of telling me its fresh water harvested from a pure spring – make an attempt to keep the illusion alive at the very least.” yes its colorful but the point is, please stop treating me like I'm an idiot as I've not given you any indication i think that of you have I?
Cheap shot again, sorry Jaime but we both know that’s a classic “let’s take this offline – abort abort” throw away pacification tactic. As what it really translates to:
“Look, we don't have engineering cycles to really fix the core problem so what we are going to do is shift the focus in other areas in the hope you will just leave us alone long enough until we can regroup for a better story next year”
Cheap shots again.. but.. in my defense, I'm just thinking on both sides of this conversation. How would I react to the responses in WPF Disciples as a Product Manager / Evangelist and lastly how would i respond to the answers I just gave as a customer / adopter of Microsoft UX Platform.
Is this about Jaime or WPF though?
Now, normally remarks like the ones Jaime has given on a public mailing list are usually ones you give a free pass to with regards to most Microsoft staffers. As at times you find staff arm themselves in the riot gear and just bolt straight into the fray of civil geek unrest and try their best to calm peoples opinions from spiraling into a negative back to a positive.
Jaime, isn’t a young pup fresh out of Microsoft boot camp. He’s a seasoned Technical Evangelist at Corp, who over the years has had deep roots with the WPF team in terms of influence and awareness of their future(s). I’ve personally worked with Jaime a few times and he is very talented and smart person, so my point here is that what he’s just outlined was a slip between what he knows privately as to what’s going on vs what he shouldn’t disclose publically. Furthermore, he speaks for the WPF team and no matter how many times he can throw the prefix “personally, my thoughts are” to his remarks, if that’s what he’s thinking then its highly likely that’s the outcome you’re likely expecting or going to expect.
This isn’t about Jaime though, and I cannot stress enough that I have enormous respect for him professionally and personally. It’s about Microsoft and WPF, and this is simply a highly visible case of internal thinking spilling over into a mailing list. I cannot stress this enough, if this reads as me kicking the crap out of Jaime's remarks on a thread then please can i simply say it's not personal its the role Jaime is acting out that is up for grabs. You represent Microsoft, you speak as if Bill Gates himself sat in a room full of journalists and outlined his thoughts, there is no “but he’s a nice guy” moments.
This is why i have created FIXWPF.org and will work night / day to expose this kind of lip service but instead of opinionated pieces or argumentative out of context text grabs, i instead will hope to back it in a more factual manner with real-world data, so situations like this aren’t a case of constant streams of :-
“trust us, we have it covered”.
No you don’t have it covered, as it costs to much remember?