Developer Backlash from the Windows 8 Preview

So… the first public peek at Windows 8 was not well received by the developer community. At the heart of the issue is the focus on HTML 5 + Javascript for native Windows 8 apps.

If you wanna see just how bad the developer reaction is, then just check out the comments section from the Channel 9 posting of the Windows 8 preview video.

That’s very nearly universal dissent you see in those comments, and lots of it. There is hardly a kind word to be found in the comments at all.

If you don’t think that’s a big deal, keep in mind that channel 9 is operated by Microsoft and targets the Microsoft developer community. A group of more than 2 developers almost never agree about anything, so seeing universal anger like that does NOT bode well.

Many of the comments were very thick with sarcasm too:

WOW! Finally Windows gadgets get the focus they deserve! I always thought these puny gadgets were never going to amount to much but Microsoft making them full screen is just sheer genius.

— DeathByVisualStudio

Yeah, that’s about right. There was also this gem here:

The ultimate comeback of windows media center. The biggest success in the history of software. Thank God I can finally see what the weather is and get my stock prices

— Kevin

Look, even if we’re all wrong about Silverlight and WPF getting side-lined here, it doesn’t change the fact that MS has been doing a horrible job conveying to their developer base any sense of a coherent strategy going forward. It seems to many of us like MS hasn’t got a fucking clue what they are doing, and is just flailing around aimlessly. Even if that isn’t true, that’s the impression… and that’s not good.

Chromebook: Yes to Flash, No for Silverlight and Java

An interesting point about Chromebook is this bit from their support FAQ:

Will Chromebooks support Flash, Java, Silverlight, and other plug-ins we need for some of our internal applications?

Chromebooks have Flash support built-in, but they do not support Java or Silverlight.

I don’t think the support for Flash is any indication that Google has some affinity for Adobe. It’s simply that the lack of Flash support in Apple products makes the presence of Flash in Google’s products major marketing advantage. Plus Flash is VERY common on the web, and a lot of people would never consider any real system that doesn’t have flash (yet).

But the lack of Java might be a different story. Oracle recently sued Google over the use of Java technologies in Android. Yes, that’s exactly what Sun did back when MS was doing well… notice a trend? Java is not “open” in any meaningful way, and it never has been. The lack of Java in Chromebook could be political as much as technological, or they could just be avoiding the suit that Oracle/Sun will file (they probably will file a suit of some sort anyway since that’s about all the company does these days).

The lack of Java support isn’t much of a drawback for end users since few public sites use Java in the browser these days anyway, but the lack could be an issue for enterprises that have internal web systems that do use Java in the browser. 

With Silverlight, I can’t blame Google for not including a plug-in for it. Microsoft has done a piss-poor job of getting Silverlight onto Linux anyway. Since the OS for Chromebook is Linux under the hood, Google would have found it hard to support it unless Microsoft were to built the plug-in themselves. Strategically though Google’s obviously gunning for Microsoft’s core market (corporate windows and office licenses) so they also have a political reason not to support Silverlight even if MS were willing to write the necessary plug-ins. Silverlight hasn’t gotten enough public adoption, so most users would not notice the lack of Silverlight support, but if Chromebooks do see widespread adoption, that lack could be a serious blow to Silverlight’s growth potential going forward; though I do suspect that MS has already killed Silverlight as a cross-platform client platform anyway.

Dissenting opinion on Chromebooks

Dissenting opinion on Chromebooks

This is the first in a multi-part series against chromebooks. There is no shortage of skepticism about Chromebook of course, but this series is a little better than most because the guy actually thought about what he wrote. I still disagree with many of his points, but they are generally good points; or at the least points that will be examined by a lot of people when weighing the merits of the new OS.