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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is Microsoft going to abandon .Net developers?

Microsoft Visual Basic and Visual FoxPro developers are still wincing over Microsoft's abandonment of their favorite platforms.

They had to throw out 100 percent of your code when .Net was introduced, and rewrite their apps from scratch, or just give up and call it a career. Now rumor has it that history is about to repeat itself.

.Net developers are getting nervous that they might end up in the same boat as their Visual Basic and FoxPro cousins. They were stunned at the absence of any .Net mention at the Windows 8 demo at D9. How do you introduce a new OS version and user interface paradigm without also showing developers how they will be building for it?

Microsoft is investing in (and reinventing around) HTML5JavaScript, and XML for its Windows 8 applications. It's a smart move on Microsoft's part, because if it doesn't adapt to the contemporary approach that's dominating the Web today, Windows will surely be left behind.

You could even argue that Microsoft is leap-frogging Apple. The Mac OS will be mired in the old user interface paradigm, requiring C++ and native API calls to get anything done, while Microsoft is embracing the technology that's driving the Web, cloud, Software as a Service, and mobile.

But what does that mean for MS .Net developers and their users? In Microsoft's usual style, they're following the trends, embracing with a bear hug late in the game, and re-inventing the wheel. In the process, collateral damage is acceptable -- even if it's their loyal developer base that gets sacrificed. Microsoft still believes that  rip and replace is superior to fluid evolution of platforms. Out with the old, in with the new, and to hell with your millions of lines of proven code.

Developers often chose Microsoft platforms because they feel they are the safest bet. "You don't get fired for buying Microsoft," the saying goes. Interestingly, despite how Microsoft has left Visual Basic and FoxPro developers in the dust, most IT development teams still subscribe to that myth.

This needs to change. We produced a white paper on this flawed risk assessment mentality topic a few years ago, and its premise remains relevant today. I encourage you to give it a read and share it around.

Microsoft .Net developers probably don't see this coming, and assume that their .Net apps will be upgraded so they can natively exploit the new operating system. My advice: Don't hold your breath. Prepare to write a ton of new code in JavaScript and HTML5. Don't expect your .Net apps to inherit any awareness of the new Windows 8 UI.

One of the strongest reasons to consider Alpha Five, which is documented in the white paper I mentioned earlier, is that we have built our business on the premise that our developers expect us to move them from era to era with a minimum of pain.

We took them from DOS to Windows with Alpha Five. Then we took them from Windows to the Web with Alpha Five Version 8. Then we brought them high-performance Ajax applications that embrace Software as a Service and the cloud with Alpha Five Versions 9 and 10. And now, with Alpha Five Version 11, mobile, HTML5, CSS3, and XML are a primary focus.

If you're a .Net developer, I encourage you to visit our message boards and talk to Alpha Five developers who have been building applications with us for several decades. Ask them if they've been able to move their applications from era to era. Ask them about our commitment to our developers. Ask them about abandonment vs. embracing.

Then decide if you want to continue to risk your code base's future with Microsoft .Net, or exploit its future with Alpha Five.


John W. said...

I see this as going far deeper into MS offerings. So,to add a bit more, having been a longtime VB and VB.Net programmer, I am concerned. Microsoft seems to be slowly but surely moving everyone towards C#. They have promised equal development on both C# and languages. However, slowly things like the MSDN magazine coding samples are only in C#. It also seems like other coding samples in MSDN library and references are certain to be available in C# but not necessarily available in VB. If my perception is true. then this will slowly but effectively erode the number of people who will adopt VB as their language of choice. If this does come to pass then Basic developers will need to move in mass to AlphaFive, especially with V11 offering support for the .Net framework. In fact I would encourage VB.Net developers to consider A5 as a viable option and not wait for Microsoft to leave you at the end of a life cycle. Simply read the tea leaves for yourself, the path seems to be laid.

Such is one person's opinion.

OCDoug said...

Do you run the Alpha Web Server on the same box as IIS?



Richard Rabins said...

@OCDoug - You can, but IIS is not a requirement at this stage for an Alpha Five app. The Alpha Five app server is both a web server and an app server.

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