Monday, October 31, 2011

Windows 8 and Fear of Change

For Halloween, I will discuss Windows 8 and Metro. I hear lots of fear and loathing in regard to Microsoft’s strategy regarding Windows 8 and the tablet.

I’ve heard horror stories about how we will be forced to throw away all we’ve learned the last 10 years and learn to write apps in HTML5 and JavaScript. Tales that Silverlight is doomed to the bone yard and so on … In short, the technology world changing and all our skills will be null and void. In our next job, we will need to rehearse the phrase: “Do you want fries with that?”

Come on, part of being a developer is dealing with change and uncertainty. In the mid 1990s, we went from DOS and character based computers to the GUI Land of Windows 95. In the early 2000s it was .NET for everyone in Windows Land. And now there are rumors of doom about what Microsoft is up to with Windows 8.

Part of the bargain of working in this business is change; we get to work on the cool new things and we have to work on the cool new things. We spend more time keeping up, learning things we need to be up to date. By choosing what to learn, we are also placing bets on winners and losers. If I study Window 8, I am betting for Microsoft and against Google and Apple. Of course, I could hedge my bet by studying both Window 8 and Android (that would reduce my potential reward.

Windows 8 etc.

Windows 8 (WinRT, Metro, etc.) represents to response to iOS and Android tablets. I don’t know if Windows 8 will preserve the market share that Microsoft has enjoyed with Windows for the past generation. I don’t know if Windows 8 will be a second Vista. It is even possible that this is the beginning of the end of Windows or even Microsoft.

I can’t say that Microsoft is late to the Tablet game. There was the PocketPC that was a small tablet that used a “pen” and there was a tablet version of Windows XP (also used a “pen”). These are pen tablets, the cool new tablets are touch tablets.

Microsoft is taking a different approach than Apple. Apple has two Operating Systems: iOS for tablets and devices and OSX for full blown computers. Microsoft is going with One OS to Rule Them All: Windows 8 will be on desktop and little tablet devices. I suppose WP8 will be Windows 8.

There are as many changes in the other platforms. Change defines our industry. Every change represents risks to all participants. Not changing also represents risks. This is just part of the job.

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