Monday, July 9, 2012

Surface: Will the Real Microsoft Strategy Please Stand Up?

Pundits from all corners are trying to decipher the strategy behind Microsoft's latest announcement, the Surface tablet. I have seen countless articles on both sides of the debate. Some claim that Microsoft finally "gets it" and has a viable product that will be quite compelling to the masses. Others authoritatively claim that Microsoft is committing suicide by marginalizing their lifeblood- OEMs. Just this week, rumors surfaced that HP might jump ship over Microsoft's betrayal.

Microsoft's strategy basically boils down to two options:

  • Horace Dediu posits that hardware has replaced software as the margin winner, and Microsoft must move towards a hardware-focused sales strategy to survive in a land of cheap apps and premium hardware.
  • Or, Jean-Louis Gassée wonders whether Microsoft may be using the Surface as a wake-up call to its OEMs to make world-class products and enable them to remain relevant in the future hardware wars.
It's exciting to watch the Surface strategy take shape, and I am eager to get my hands on one when it is made available. At Pariveda, we are building some amazingly elegant applications in Windows 8 for our clients. The apps look so good that we are already getting requests like, "How can we build and run this on an iPad?" That is an amazing testament to the UI-goodness of the new Metro-style.

My biggest complaint with Windows 8, however, has nothing to do with the OS and everything to do with the timing of the next release of Office. Hands down, the most killer app for a tablet form-factor, Windows 8 machine is a touch-optimized version of Outlook. Talk to any business user of the iPad and they will admit that they can't really process their inbox using the mail app. Most have devised strategies for marking certain emails to be addressed later when they can get on their "real" PC. If there was a well-designed, touch-centric version of the ubiquitous Outlook client for Windows 8, it would be incredibly appealing to many a road warrior.

Unfortunately, every announcement of Windows 8 is sorely lacking any details surrounding the next release of Office. It appears to be on a completely different delivery schedule, and that is a real shame.  And a mistake that at this late in the game, Microsoft can hardly afford.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Microsoft's Acquisition of Yammer

While the purchase price of the acquisition is certainly debatable, Microsoft's decision to acquire Yammer makes a lot of sense.  SharePoint should have had a more solid entry into social networking with their 2010 product and it appeared that the 2013 release would also leave folks wanting more.

I think the integration path for Yammer into the Microsoft product umbrella will be much quicker than past acquisitions for some key reasons.  First, Yammer is a completely cloud based solution.  The work that will need to occur for Microsoft to sell Yammer under the SharePoint umbrella will be minimal.  Secondly, Yammer already offers SharePoint integration as a part of their enterprise integration accounts, so the integration heavy lifting has already been done.

If you compare the cost of integration of Yammer with that of Newsgator, it becomes clearer why it may be a better fit.  Newsgator is installed on top of a SharePoint installation rather than beside it.  Yammer does not install itself on the servers you run SharePoint on which makes it much easier to see it being "added" to the stack for both Office 365 and future (and current) versions of SharePoint.

My prediction is that we'll see Yammer integration with the SharePoint product line before we see any real integration between Lync and Skype.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Accepting Diversity - The Mandate of Mobile

I found this very interesting bit from the Wall Street Journal, CIO Edition:
Google senior vice president Vic Gundrota used the company’s social network to introduce a mobile version of Google+. The fact Google introduced it for Apple devices first, because the Android version isn’t ready, is an acknowledgement both of the urgency to get a mobile version of its social network into the market, and the primacy of the iPhone.
This is the way organizations must operate in the new world of multi-platform, multi-OS, and multi-form-factors with no dominant winner.  Gone are the days of using your monopoly in one area to force your users to use your other products.  If you are selling a service, you must accept the fact that you should actively pursue every avenue to sell that service, even by actively promoting it on your competitors platforms.

Even Microsoft is beginning to slowly adopt this approach.  They have released Lync and OneNote applications for iOS and there are lot of well respected prognosticators who believe there will be more versions of Office applications that will run on competing devices in the future.

Pariveda continues to actively develop mobile strategies and roadmaps for our clients that embrace the diversity of platforms as a current and future reality.  Enterprises must be prepared to support multiple platforms and develops applications that effectively run on these platforms.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

PaaS Definition: It Depends On Whom You Ask...

David Chappell wrote an interesting post on what the "real" definition of PaaS (Platform as a Service) is.

As with many emerging technologies, vendors try to cast their offering in the most favorable light by adjusting the definition to match what their product does.

He talks about the four main competitors: Microsoft (Windows Azure), Google (AppEngine), SalesForce (Force.com) and Amazon (Elastic Beanstalk) and how their systems have similar and also widely varying approaches.

The one capability that sticks out for me the most is "updating with no downtime." That seems like a entry-level requirement and one that surprisingly Amazon's Elastic Beanstalk currently doesn't support. This is a very new offering for Amazon so I have to imagine that it is on the radar for future enhancements. "Root Access to the VM" the application is running on seems like more of a selling opportunity to IT buyers concerned about giving up control-- if it works the way PaaS is supposed to, do I really need that level of access? Auto-scaling is another one that I think is a must-have across all of the stacks. If my demand spikes at 3am, please tell me a human is not required to increase the capacity-- automate please.

The PaaS space is certainly one that we at Pariveda see as the most promising and one that we look forward to discussing further with organizations. I will be speaking with Vaughan Merlyn in February and early March on the Threats and Opportunities in the Cloud in Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Seattle. If you're near the area during that time, sign up and come see us.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Microsoft to offer Chatter-like OfficeTalk


This could be great for Microsoft technologies.

I have to say that when I first heard about SalesForce.com's Chatter, I wasn't intrigued. It sounded like "just another enterprise micro-blogging tool." When I caught up with a contact who had recently moved over to work for SalesForce, and I got the scoop on what Chatter really is I was incredibly impressed.

The concept of not only being able to follow people within my company but also things is very cool. So any entity that I create on the Force.com platform can participate in my Chatter stream. That is powerful. I could follow a client, an opportunity, a project, a team... hopefully if and when Microsoft gets on the micro-blogging bandwagon, they take the same approach to allowing anything to be followed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Microsoft makes OneNote free on the iPhone. Is iPad next?


Key quote from this piece:
Microsoft is a software company. The company should offer software products across platforms to maximize its addressable market. The entire Microsoft Office suit should be made available on the iPad. Otherwise, Numbers, Pages, etc. for iPad will only continue to grow.

It's great to see that they are developing more apps for iOS. As the device space heats up and more non-Windows devices make their way into our lives, Microsoft Office, their cash-cow, must try and be on as many of them as possible.

My gut tells me it won't happen, but I was surprised to see even OneNote. Baby steps.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Visual Studio STILL Calls It JScript?

Just when I think Microsoft is gradually accepting some common community standards: embracing MVC, framework support of JSON, TDD...

Today I am deploying a web app to Azure, and I decide to write my current Sencha demo using Visual Studio 2010:

  • Javascript Intellisense - Check
  • Easy Packaging to Azure - Check
  • Familiar IDE - Check

I go to add my javascript file and I search for "Javascript" using the handy power tools when adding files.  I type javascript - "No items found" Huh?  Turns out Microsoft still prefers to refer to the js files as JScript files.  Really?  It's 2011.  It is supposedly to avoid trademark issues with Sun:

As explained by JavaScript guru Douglas Crockford in his talk entitled The JavaScript Programming Language on YUI Theater, "[Microsoft] did not want to deal with Sun about the trademark issue, and so they called their implementation JScript. A lot of people think that JScript and JavaScript are different but similar languages. That's not the case. They are just different names for the same language, and the reason the names are different was to get around trademark issues."

I seriously doubt that adding javascript in the name of the file you are creating in an IDE would violate trademark issues.  Every other IDE doesn't seem to have a problem it.