Monday, 18 December 2006

Microsoft's need to monetize first and their decision to leave Expression out of MSDN

Robert Scoble has an interesting post about Microsoft's need to monetize first, build second. His point is how Google seems to be adopting that strategy. I don't disagree with Robert but that isn't my point here.

When I first heard that Expression wasn't going to be included in MSDN this is the first thing that came to mind. I imagined some executive asking the team how they were going to pay for themselves. I imagined that team arguing that they'd never be able to hit their revenue targets if nobody bought a copy of Expression the first year because they already had it in MSDN.

That may not be what happened. But it sure sounds like a reasonable thing. And that pisses me off because it misses the point. It is too short sighted. Sometimes (maybe most of the time) it makes sense to require teams to justify their existence by making them think about revenue first. After all, startups can't survive very long on negative cash flow. Contrary to Bubble 1.0 conventional wisdom.

But the value of some products is much greater than the direct contribution to the bottom line. Expression is exactly that type of product. Without making Expression available to the widest possible audience Microsoft is going to have a much tougher time selling people on the .NET 3.0 platform.

Consider this: The WPF MVP's won't have a copy of Expression Suite. In what universe does that make sense? How does that promote the WPF platform.

After spending some time with Expression Blend I think I will have to invest the $450 in the Expression Suite upgrade dance. But I'm still not happy about it. I'd much rather see Microsoft make Expression Blend available to as wide an audience as possible. As far as I'm concerned they should give a copy away for the first 6 months to everyone who owns a copy of Photoshop or Illustrator. This is not a time to be cheap Microsoft.

12/18/2006 09:29:10 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Friday, 08 December 2006

Wow, Jon Udell is going to work for Microsoft

Jon Udell is going to be a Microsoft Evangelist. I never saw this coming. I am a huge Jon Udell fanboy. I think this great for Microsoft. I hope it is also great for Jon.

Congrats Microsoft! Good luck Jon!

12/08/2006 11:11:33 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Tuesday, 05 December 2006

Expression Tools not in MSDN and no Linux version of WPF/E, WTF Microsoft?

This decision is stunning:

Apparently Web Developers Don't Do Web Design

And now there are no plans for a Linux port of the WPF/E runtime. That news directly contradicts what Microsoft said at Mix06.

I really wanted to be excited about WPF/E. But right now I have this horrible feeling of déjà vu. WPF/E feels a lot like DHTML in IE 4 felt almost 10 years ago. There is a lot of potential for some cool stuff to emerge. But there is huge potential for Microsoft to abandon support for WPF/E as soon as it gains traction.

Microsoft is in an increasingly defensive posture. They keep turning up the pressure with Product Activation. The seem to be on a path of forcing their customers into a subscription model for their software. But their customers have been telling them for years that they don't want to subscribe to software. Meanwhile there are fewer reasons than ever to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft products. And the one software subscription program that they have had is getting neutered for the second time in 2 years. Let that be a warning Microsoft customers.

The recent Novell Linux and Office UI License announcements also leave me feeling very suspicious. Microsoft gave up the Embrace & Extend strategy for good a few years ago. But now they seem to be pursuing a Trojan Horse strategy. The signs were there when they announced that the Common Language Infrastructure & C# would be ECMA standards. But recent developments are confirming some of the fears I had, and discounted, when those announcements were made.

I'm curious how the industry will react to this latest strategy. When Microsoft was fighting the first browser wars I gave them the benefit of the doubt. I was naive and I didn't think they would be foolish enough to do what their critics said they would do once they won the browser wars. But they did. I will never again doubt their willingness to abandon their loyal developer community if that suits their interests.

The amazing thing about WPF/E is that the runtime for Windows is only 1MB. I wish someone in the open source world had the balls to abandon HTML, CSS & SVG the way Microsoft did with XAML and build a competitive open platform that does what WPF/E will do. It should have the same target as WPF/E too. Don't worry about 3D, just focus on Vector graphics and rich media.

Where is the Dave Winer or David Heinemeier Hansson of this space? We need someone to embrace and extend WPF/E before Microsoft and Adobe scorch the earth in Browser War II.

12/05/2006 12:02:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Monday, 30 October 2006

It is Q4/2006, where is the WPF/E CTP?

At Mix06 Microsoft said a CTP of WPF/E should be available in Q3/2006. Well Q3 has come and gone and there is still no CTP. I was begginning to wonder if WPF/E was going to end up just another big cloud of MS FUD.

JCooney wondered the same thing recently:

It's a few days into October, so where is WPF/E? At Mix06 the date for the first CTP was announced as "Q3 2006" or "summer 2006"...So where is it, huh? WPF/E PM bloggers Mike Harsh and Joe Stegman have been very quiet since then...

He pointed to a post from the Firefox team that seems to suggest that WPF/E does exist in some form. That makes me feel a little better, but I'd still like to see some running bits make it public to get a feel for how far away it truly is.

10/30/2006 09:18:13 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Monday, 11 September 2006

What order should you install Vista RC1, .NET 3.0 RC1, Visual Studio, and Expression Interactive Designer?

I'm in the process of installing .NET 3 on Vista RC1 and I was looking for a good guide on doing things in the correct order. I should have known that Sam would beat me to it. Sam Gentile has a great guide on getting started with Windows Vista RC1.

09/11/2006 08:07:42 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Saturday, 09 September 2006

The XNA Game Components Demo Rocks!

Mitch Walker recently posted a short screencast showing off the Game Components features of the XNA Framework.

This is awesome. I completely wrote off the XNA Framework when I read the FAQ and learned how crippled the functionality is in this initial beta. But this short screencast got me very excited about the possibilities.

The idea of component based game development could be huge. If this takes off it could really revitalize the game development world. Personally I'm tired of paying $50+ for another rehash of the latest First Person Shooter. I long for games that focus on new and interesting game play rather than glitzy graphics and crappy stories. Here's hoping that XNA can do for game development what VB did for Windows software development. Good job XNA Team!

This also helps reinforce the idea that a focused, short, concise screencast is incredibly powerful. Thanks to Jon Udell for having the vision, passion, and patience to lead the way. He truly is one of my heroes.

09/09/2006 10:51:07 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Thursday, 07 September 2006

Beware BestBuy Pricing Games

I'm in the market for a new digital video camera. After doing some research I decided to buy the .

Yesterday Amazon had this camera in stock for $507. BestBuy's web site said it was in stock at my local BestBuy store. When I added the camera to my online cart to check the price I saw that they wanted $527. I decided to pay BestBuy the extra $20 for the convenience of getting it locally.

When I got to BestBuy last night they did indeed have it in stock. But the price was $569. I told the sales clerk that their site listed it at $527. He said that was strange because they usually sell it in the store for the same price as they sell it online. He went to check. When he came back he had a printout of a BestBuy online shopping cart. The price he was quoted online was $569, the same price the store had it listed. When I got home later I checked again and the price was still $527 when I added it to my cart.

This morning I'm ordering the camera from Amazon. Not only am I saving money on the camera, I'm also saving a bunch of money on MiniDV tapes.

From now on when BestBuy says they are hiding the price from me because the manufacturer requires them to I think I'll be a little more skeptical. And before I go to the local store I'll print the price that I was quoted online. If they don't match the online price, I'll buy from someone else.

It wasn't a completely wasted trip though. I did get to see the camera and compare the size of it to other cameras I was looking at. It is a little bigger, but not too much. And the quality is much better than my old camera and the other cameras I was considering.

09/07/2006 07:24:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback

 Wednesday, 06 September 2006

HOWTO Screencast: Use IronPython and Snoop to explore the Windows Presentation Foundation

In this short screencast I show how you can use IronPython and Snoop together to explore the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

IronPython is a wonderful dynamic language with full access to the .NET Framework. Snoop is a great WPF debugging tool. Together they can help you climb the steep WPF learning curve.

A flash version of the screencast is available here.

UPDATE: Rob Relyea points out a way for me to simply my code. Instead of doing:

b.Content = TextBlock()
b.Content.Text = "Hi"

I could do this instead:

b.Content = "Hi"

WPF creates the TextBlock for you automatically when you set the Content property to a string. That does work from IronPython. Thanks Rob.

UPDATE: In the comments to Rob's post above he points out that there is a way to refresh the Snoop visual tree (the treeview on the left side of the window). All you have to do is press F5. Very cool.

If you don't have IronPython installed see: HOWTO Screencast: Install IronPython

If you need to know how to build Snoop without Visual Studio see: HOWTO Screencast: Build Snoop without Visual Studio

09/06/2006 07:31:56 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Trackback