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Microsoft Out of Favor With Young, Hip Developers 775

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft's failures with the KIN phone (only two months on the market, less than 10,000 phones sold) are well-known to this community. Now the NY Times goes farther, quoting Tim O'Reilly: 'Microsoft is totally off the radar of the cool, hip, cutting-edge software developers.' Microsoft has acknowledged that they have lost young developers to the lures of free software. 'We did not get access to kids as they were going through college,' acknowledged Bob Muglia, the president of Microsoft's business software group, in an interview last year. 'And then, when people, particularly younger people, wanted to build a start-up, and they were generally under-capitalized, the idea of buying Microsoft software was a really problematic idea for them.' Microsoft's program to seed start-ups with its software for free requires the fledgling companies to meet certain guidelines and jump through hoops to receive software — while its free competitors simply allow anyone to download products off a website with the click of a button." Update: 07/07 13:21 GMT by T : Tim O'Reilly says that while he "[doesn't] disagree with all of his conclusions," he's not happy with it Ashlee Vance's piece, writing "I was not the source for the various comments that were attributed to me," including the bit about "totally off the radar." (Thanks to reader gbll.)
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Microsoft Out of Favor With Young, Hip Developers

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  • Free (Score:3, Informative)

    by jamesyouwish ( 1738816 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:49PM (#32818690)
    You mean a startup would rather spend it's money on its core business then on bloated software. Especial when a free version does all they need.
  • Right and wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @06:58PM (#32818804) Journal

    Well this certainly isn't anywhere Microsoft is going to visit, and as a young, hip developer myself, I'd sure like to point out a good reason as to why they aren't doing so hot with my demographic.

    The issue isn't that you aren't "accessing" post secondary students. I learned all about VB, .NET, and I used Visual Studio, and I made some pretty amazing Win32 apps. All in all, my experience with the product was good. VB, once you understand programming theory, is as easy to write as Java or C++, its mostly just a syntax thing. All in all I found Visual Studio easier to layout and work with GUI's than Eclipse was with Java. So, you don't need to worry about that, Microsoft.

    But you did hit ONE big nail right on the head.

    And then, when people, particularly younger people, wanted to build a start-up, and they were generally under-capitalized, the idea of buying Microsoft software was a really problematic idea for them.

    Yes, yes it was a big problem for me. Currently the latest version, with the PRO edition (not even the ultimate edition) is $729 dollars - which is more than most kids with student loan debts can afford. And then you made the "Express" tools which are completely and utterly crippled in that I can't do half the stuff that made visual studio so appealing to use.

    As such, when my school taught me how to use the no-cost solutions, you can imagine how much more we prefer to work with them as a hobby, because as young, hip, students we don't have any money to just fling around.

    Not to mention that .NET seems to be losing some speed - I don't know if I want to keep writing for it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:11PM (#32818952)

    First they ignore you.
    Then they ridicule you.
    Then they fight you.
    Then you win.

    -- Ghandi.

    Gandhi, not Ghandi

  • Bzzz. Wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:15PM (#32818994) Homepage []

    Less is also used with numbers when they are on their own and with expressions of measurement or time, e.g.:

    His weight fell from 18 stone to less than 12.
    Their marriage lasted less than two years.
    Heath Square is less than four miles away from Dublin city centre

    And since you're in marketing: []

  • by js3 ( 319268 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:25PM (#32819138)

    The amount of .net developer jobs out there is insane. Almost EVERYTHING is now .net, iphone development is kinda "hip" but it's not exactly a money maker at this point for anyone. I"m still stuck on old c/c++ development but that brings in the biggest and longest software contracts compared to the 3 week "do this iphone app for me" jobs.

  • by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:34PM (#32819262) Homepage

    The obvious fact is, that Lord Bill's nightmare came true. He was afraid that web browser would make the operating system irrelevant, and that's exactly what happened. Think about it. When was the last time someone said, "Hey check this out! Go download this application..." Almost never. All the really exciting is happening on the web. That's because the web has matured to the point that developers are leveraging Internet scale data. Not only that, but web based apps are preferred by users because they work everywhere. I still use a standalone application for email, but I'm in the minority. This hasn't just made Microsoft unhip, but frankly irrelevant. As I told a friend of mine who said how he despised Microsoft, "Isn't hating Microsoft, a bit like still hating Prussia?" What does Microsoft have that's relevant? Sure they still have their Windows and Office, but that software is commodified. I can access the web with any OS, so Windows simply doesn't matter. With interoperability. no one really needs Office. For me, Apple's Pages and Numbers work pretty well, although I still prefer Excel for its ability to allow me to write custom functions (albeit in VB).

    Now here's the irony, Microsoft Research is supercool. They do all sorts of groundbreaking stuff. Photosynth [], Surface [], along with work in collaboration and personal information management, just to name a few areas. MSR is great, and there really aren't that many places that do that work, let alone at with the both the breadth and depth of MSR. Microsoft doesn't really have too many peers in that respect, and that makes Microsoft very hip. Of course, MSR isn't for everyone, but for those people that like to do research, its great place to work.

  • Re:Misses the point (Score:4, Informative)

    by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:36PM (#32819294)

    Android SDK is built on GNU, Eclipse and other open source software and is fully open source.

    It's also the fastest growing mobile platform and what all the hip groovy cats are into.

    Not exactly a walled garden.

  • Re:Fine with me... (Score:4, Informative)

    by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:40PM (#32819334)
    So your company pays no money for Visual Studio Professional Editions for you to develop? Right . . . . The $100/yr btw is if you want to distribute apps on the App store. If you are writing OS X applications, there is no yearly fee.
  • Re:Fine with me... (Score:5, Informative)

    by caywen ( 942955 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:44PM (#32819372)

    To be fair, the .NET SDK itself is 100% free, as are the Express editions: []
    They also provide XNA for free, and it looks like Windows Phone 7 tools will be free as well.

    It's not like one *has* to pay for Microsoft's developer stack. They are just charging you for the premium features of their IDE.

  • by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @07:46PM (#32819414)
  • It's the libraries that are fucked up: the .NET base libraries are basically the managed versions of the Win32 platform.


    The .NET libraries do not resemble Win32 at all. I know this because Win32 makes me want to gouge my eyes out where as .NET libraries cause no such adverse reaction.

  • Re:Fine with me... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @08:26PM (#32819928) Homepage Journal

    "This comes up on every Slashdot article even vaguely related to Microsoft, Express Editions [] are free, dumbass."

    And crippled?

  • by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:04PM (#32820326)

    Chances are it won't, it's like Russian roulette.

    I mean, how often does Wine work? Mono is the same exact thing.

  • by Dr Herbert West ( 1357769 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:07PM (#32820344)
    Good for you-- are you hiring? Because where I'm sitting, most firms want staff that's cheap, easy to fire, no spouses/children/mortgages to support, won't demand health insurance... you get the picture. HR calls it "young and hip", the bean counters call it "minimizing long term expenses".

    Experience and professionalism are a long term expense.
  • by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @09:15PM (#32820406) Homepage

    This 43-year-old developer who's been coding for 29 years (professionally for 20 years) wouldn't touch Windows development even if you paid him $1 million/year.

    I'd feel way too dirty to wallow in the cesspool of the Windows API.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:26PM (#32820932) Journal

    First of all, thank you. It's always good to hear some criticism on definite and specific issues, rather than the generic "M$ sucks".

    (I am a VS developer)

    Or how about, starting in either VS2005 or 2008 (can't remember which one), I opened up a project written in VC++6 and freaked when I suddenly started seeing hundred and hundreds of warnings, telling me that functions like strncat() (strncat!) were "unsafe" and I should use something like _strnscat or something like that, which supposedly was "more" safe at the cost of being totally Microsoft-specific.

    It was added in VS2005, but it's not quite [] MS-specific. OpenWatcom also provides [] it out of the box, and there's a cross-platform FOSS implementation [] available now.

    The reason why the text says that they are unsafe is because, frankly, they are - as a result of several security studies, they account for a very significant proportion of known buffer overrun vulnerabilities. Of course, it's perfectly possible to use them in a safe way, but surprisingly many people actually do... but this take has been fairly controversial [], anyway, I won't deny that.

    It should also be noted that this isn't actually the default for the compiler as such - if you directly do "cl.exe foo.cpp", you won't get any warnings for strcpy. It only pops up if you raise the warning level to /W3 or higher, which is what IDE does by default for newly created C++ projects. The text of the warning also clearly states what to do to get rid of it:

    warning C4996: 'strcpy': This function or variable may be unsafe. Consider using strcpy_s instead. To disable deprecation, use CRT_SECURE_NO_WARNINGS. See online help for details.

    When you refer to it being per-project, do you imply that it was inconvenient to add the define to all the numerous projects you've had in the solution?

    How about the auto-hide windows that seem to randomly decide to suddenly be pinned or to suddenly appear during unrelated actions?

    Tool windows in VS have different and separate settings depending on which mode you're in - aside from the default one which you get on normal VS start and/or project open, debugging is a separate mode, and opening VS with a single file (aka "simple editing") is yet another. This is somewhat similar to Eclipse perspectives.

    If you pinned a toolwindow in one of those modes, it will not be pinned in other modes. The idea is that you generally want different toolwindow configurations depending on activity - e.g. you might want Breakpoints window to be set to auto-hide during normal editing, but pinned in debugging. So you will, at most, need to pin the window in all modes in which you've made it visible, and most likely, you'll be dealing with just the default mode and the debugging one.

    If you experience random pinning/unpinning that cannot be explained by the above, then please describe the scenario under which it happens - which toolwindow, what were you doing when it got unpinned, etc. Better yet, do it in a bug tracker [].

    When working with C#, the compiler and editor will give you a red squiggle under code it can't compile, but gives you know way to know where or how many places in the file they are

    If you open the Error tool window (which will happen after the first build, but you can do it manually), it will list all IntelliSense errors just as if they were compiler errors, so you can see the error descriptions, and double-click to jump to location. By the way, this (as well as squiggles themselves) also works for C++ in VS2010.

    If you want margin markers as in Eclipse, you can

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @10:41PM (#32821002)

    The only major web company I know of that runs MS is eBay... and besides going public in the .com boom, I have no clue how they managed to afford the doubling of their startup costs that using MS means. Maybe they got some sort of sweetheart deal... but MS is notorious for doing a sweetheart deal to start, only to ruin your life when the rubber actually hits the road, trusting them with your business is foolish. eBay shareholders would probably be really happy if the capex going to MS stayed on eBay's bottom line...

    Actually, I think eBay is pretty well-known for having switched to Java EE a while ago.

  • by Sam the Nemesis ( 604531 ) on Tuesday July 06, 2010 @11:37PM (#32821352)
    Please use correct spelling - Gandhi.
  • by unity ( 1740 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @01:27AM (#32822052)
    " If Microsoft had actually open-sourced .NET it would probably have blown Java out of the water. But they didn't and they probably won't"

    Uhm. I have much of the .net framework source. You can too: []
  • by HannethCom ( 585323 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:30AM (#32822416)
    Talking about too many version of everything, They keep coming out with new versions of .Net even before most companies have the chance to move to the latest version and with each new version they want you to do everything differently.

    The most ridiculous example is LINQ to SQL, it came out with .Net 3.5 which was 1 year ago, now 4.0 is out and it is deprecated, now you are supposed to use their entity framework.

    There is also the central contact storage in Vista and Windows 7 and 6 months after the original programming interface came out it was deprecated. I haven't been able to figure out if they've replaced the interface with another API, or if the contact storage is just there for "Legacy" support. Personally I thought that was one of the few properly thought out things in Vista.

    The other problem is that the developer tools are not really cheap, sure if you want this limited functionality it isn't bad, but every 2-3 years they have a new version of Visual Studio out. Microsoft has already said they want to go to a yearly subscription where you are forced to use the latest of their products, but I've already commented on how are you supposed to build a house on quicksand.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @02:45AM (#32822488) Journal

    So, I joined a startup about 2002, and we decided to grow organically. Growth has been solid and almost swift: 25%-70% per year. When we started, cash was crazy tight, since I was working after work hours and on weekends and funding everything myself. So, I got the cheapest thing I could find that would qualify as "our server" (a 1U PIV with generic parts) and got everything else for free with the Linux ISO. LAPP (Postgres/PHP) and we are good to go, with no worries about growth or licenses down the road.

    So now, here we are, 8 years later. The company is now working towards its 2nd million in value, and the growth ratio is starting to get a bit crazy - after rapid growth in the beginning and a few years of weak growth, our curve is picking up again sharply. And now, the licensing savings are really starting to pay off.

    I can take a disk image of any of our production servers, reload the database(s) and tweak a few settings (like IP address and/or host name) to roll out another system. Hassle? No. I can build an image just by re-enabling Raid 1 on an otherwise active partition and have my new server up, pre-configured. Total time per system might be 1 or 2 hours, without incurring any downtime, licensing costs, or (possibly most importantly) any licensing headaches.

    And all this, for software that confidently works reliably, 24x7/365 with less than 0.05% downtime per server per year with reasonable quality hardware. Only an idiot would think this is anything less than a very, very good idea.

  • by MemoryDragon ( 544441 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @04:13AM (#32822948)

    I have to if you look at JEE from outside you might somewhat get the impression this is the same. After all Hibernate was there before JPA, Tapestry before JSF etc... but the situation is somewhat different, usually an expert group defines the JEE apis which usually either the corresponding OSS people participate or lead and hence from the research ground the OSS people did a spec is defined. JPAs lead was Gavin King who has been the lead dev and starter of Hibernate. JSF has seen many people in the EG, McClanahan from Struts, people from Oracle which defined UIX etc... even the Tapestry lead dev was for a brief period in the EG (but left shortly after, different mentality I guess)

    Spring on the other hand is just an OSS project where they do their own stuff as they want, most of the time it works out sometimes it does not. Completely different mentality than forking opensource projects and closing them up under their own terms. The entire JEE and spring stack is nowadays opensourced under different licenses from different organisations and companies and parts if not all of the specs are developed as opensource reference implementations.
    The commercial vendors then close the apis in their impls for their high end irons which you do not have to use, but you can but they still stay within the bounds of the specs.

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:23AM (#32823308)

    which is built on C++ (their greatest flaw)

    But there is no other language that combines:

    • high level constructs.
    • low level access when required.
    • direct interfacing with native code.

    Given all the above, and considering the year Qt appeared, C++ is the only choice. Remember that Qt needs to run in platforms that C# or Java does not exist now and back then when the project was started.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @06:50AM (#32823804)

    Wrong! It is easy. Three steps:
    1. Download Visual C++ Express (and register it)
    2. Download the Windows SDK 2003 (second release) [how doesn't it "fit in" with the IDE??? It has all necessary headers in it.....]
    3. The End

    Alternatively, you could add in step 2b, which is grab an alternative windowing library like FLTK or wxWidgets. If you're using .NET, you're shooting yourself in the foot because you can't ever port the app. Think ahead, choose some libraries that work cross platform and allow you to sell your code one day (Boost, wxWidgets, FLTK). The only difficulty you'll have is talking to DBs; try looking for LGPL stuff and link dynamically to be safe.

    If you want to compile your project on Linux, use something lightweight like Code::blocks. For Mac OSX, try XCode (unless you hate cluttered UIs and are happy with a giant download), or just Code::Blocks again (a bit dodgy under OSX). Choose your API carefully - you'll want to use a wrapper like wxWidgets on top of it, which uses Carbon (not Cocoa which is dependent on you using ObjectiveC).

    Your rant is precisely that - a rant. Not productive either!

  • by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @10:52AM (#32826354)

    (c) The .NET runtime is a moving target. I know developers who have had to basically trash all of their work to target the latest .NET Runtime. 1.0 -> 1.1 -> 1.3 -> 2.0 all required major rewrites, lots of refactoring, and lots of work. This is not just to get the new features, this is just to make it compile. Heck, even going from 3.5 to 4.0 will cost MAJOR development time and money because they changed everything around AGAIN.

    Rubbish. Version 1.3? Where did you get that? 3.5 to 4.0 is a MAJOR development effort? You don't know what you're talking about.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @03:57PM (#32830594)

    I can take a disk image of any of our production servers, reload the database(s) and tweak a few settings (like IP address and/or host name) to roll out another system. Hassle? No. I can build an image just by re-enabling Raid 1 on an otherwise active partition and have my new server up, pre-configured. Total time per system might be 1 or 2 hours, without incurring any downtime, licensing costs, or (possibly most importantly) any licensing headaches.

    This, exactly.

    Let's say I've spent three or four hours getting Windows computer set up just the way I want it; now, I want to take an image of this computer, and deploy it to new computers so I don't have to spend hours every time we have a new hire.

    Can I (legally) take an image of the computer and deploy it? I don't know, because Microsoft doesn't really support imaging (they've only recently even released tools for it!). How does the Office licensing (and Office is pretty much required in a business setting) interact with the imaging process? I have no idea, I'm no lawyer. Do I need to change the SID on the computer once I've deployed the image? Who knows? Apparently not even Mark Russinovich - he recently changed his mind on whether or not it's necessary, and he's the guy who wrote newsid.

    The whole thing is murky and fraught with peril. I live in fear that someday one of the computers I deploy Windows 7 to will fail activation - and not because of something I've done wrong (though it took forever, I know all my licenses are in order), but just because the Microsoft activation servers are having a bad day and decide to hate me.

    On the other hand, deploying a Linux image is quite easy. There's guides splattered all over the Internet for whatever flavor of Linux you want to use, and as a bonus if there's any first boot configuration you need to do (like applying new patches, etcetera) the built in command-line tools on Linux are far far easier to use. No agonizing over activation, no worrying that someday Microsoft will decide they hate your license key, no worrying that some new hardware will throw a monkey wrench in whatever Rube Goldberg-esque imaging process you come up with - it all just works, like an operating system should.

  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Wednesday July 07, 2010 @05:34PM (#32832264)

    Seriously? Did you even look at the Wikipedia citation you provided? The Wii had sold 13.4 million units as of 14 November 2008 . The Xbox 360 had sold 18.6 million units as of 31 December 2009 , more than a year later. In other words, all your source proves is that the Xbox360 manages to beat the Wii if you give it a year's head start.

    Look at the actual current data, from like VGChartz [] or something. The Xbox360 sold 170,000 units last week versus the Wii's 80,000; however, total sales are 33 million for the Wii and 23 million for the Xbox360. Like I said, although the Xbox360 is selling more right now, that's more likely to be due to a recent price drop that was advertised. This is blatantly obvious if you compare the chart from 12 June vs 19 June - Xbox360 sales move from a steady 50,000/wk to 130,000/wk after the price cut is implemented. In terms of total sales, on the other hand, the Wii is has won quite handily.

    Anyway, they didn't just produce the second most popular console in the world - they also produced the second least popular console in the world. Coming second place in a three-way contest isn't that great (and in this case, all it really seems to mean is that the PS3 is kind of a commercial flop - it's got half the sales of the Wii!), and it gets significantly worse when you account for the (large!) mobile gaming market.

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!