Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

There have been esimates that when Microsoft releases Office for the iPad, likely later this month, it could end up bringing in billions of additional dollars to Microsoft’s coffers. Is that hype and overkill, it will it really add that much to Microsoft’s bottom line?

It’s widely expected that on March 27, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella will announce Office for the iPad. If that’s true, that will finally put an end to the “will-they-won’t-they” speculation that has swirled around the fate of the suite for years.

How much additional revenue will Microsoft bring in when it releases the suite? Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt says that Microsoft could get $2.5 billion in new Office revenue by releasing Office for the iPad. And Gerry Purdy, principal of MobileTrax, offers even bigger numbers. He believe that Microsoft could gain an additional $1.25 billion in revenue in the first year Microsoft releases Office for the iPad and Android tablets, and $6 billion in annual revenue by 2017.

I think both numbers are wildly inflated. Take a look at Purdy’s reasoning,which is based on Microsoft releasing Office for both Android and the iPad.

He assumes that 25% of iOS and Android tablet users would buy Office and that Microsoft would net $50 per copy sold. He believes that Microsoft will sell Office for the tablets as standalones, rather than include it as part of a subscription to Office 365.

Purdy is likely wrong on both counts. It’s hard to imagine a quarter of all iPad and tablet users buying Office, especially because there are so many free or very low-cost alternatives, including the free Google Docs and Google’s Quickoffice. I’m sure that the percentage of people willing to pay for Office is far, far under 25 percent.

In addition, it’s quite likely that Office will be sold as part of an Office 365 subscription, not as a standalone piece of software. Microsoft has made clear that subscription-based Office is the future, and standalone Office is the past. As just one piece of evidence, Microsoft recently announced a cheaper Office 365 subscription, called Office 365 Personal, that appears to be aimed at those with iPads. It will cost $6.99 a month, or $69.99 for a year for one PC or Mac and one tablet compared to $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year for five devices for the normal subscription version of Office. That means that only some part of additional Office revenue shoud be attributed to the iPad, not all of it.

But that doesn’t really matter. Releasing Office for the iPad is not only about additional revenue. It’s also being done to protect existing revenue and market share. Microsoft needs to fend off Google Docs, which is free and works on all platforms. Releasing Office for the iPad is an important way to do that.

That will be even more important in future years. Rumors are that a 12-inch iPad may eventually come down the pike. If true, that would put it at the screen size of a laptop, and make it more likely that iPad owners will want a productivity suite. If Microsoft wants to keep its hold on the office productivity market, Office needs to be available for the iPad, and at some point, Android tablets as well.

Lina Deveikyte Lina Deveikyte
Lina.Deveikyte@altabel.com 
Skype ID: lina_deveikyte
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The Web as we know it have been born and matured on computers, but as it turns out now, computers no longer have dominance in it. According to a recent report by analyst Mary Meeker, mobile devices running iOS and Android now account for 45 percent of browsing, compared to just 35 percent for Windows machines. Moreover, Android and iOS have essentially achieved their share in just five years and their share is getting tremendously larger.

According to some forecasts their worldwide number of mobile devices users should overtake the worldwide number of PC users next year. If forecasts come true, this shift will not only continue, but accelerate. Based on data from Morgan Stanley, Meeker estimates roughly 2.9 billion people around the world will be using smartphones and tablets by 2015.

What does it mean now that more people are accessing the Web through tablets and smartphones rather than laptops and desktops? And is it really a big deal? Anyway, Internet is intended to be accessed from anywhere and thus from any device. Well, it is quite a change at least in terms most people consider the Web and how it gradually adapts to be used on mobile devices.

Apps-like sites
As mobile devices take over, the use of today’s desktop browsers like Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will decline. Mobile browsers are already very capable and will increasingly adopt HTML5 and leading-edge Web technologies. As mobile devices naturally have less screen area, the sites need to function more like mobile apps and less like collections of links. So the sites are likely to look like apps.

Apps may rule
Native apps for smartphones and tablets almost always surpass websites designed for mobile devices because they can tap into devices’ native capabilities for a more responsive and seamless experience. This is most likely to change in the nearest future – most experts agree HTML5 is eventually the way of the future. This is already the status quo in social gaming: for example Angry Birds and Words with Friends. Some services won’t be available at all to traditional PCs — they won’t be worth developers’ time.

Less information at once
Web sites and publishers will no longer be able to display everything new for users and hoping something will catch the user’s eye. Smaller screens and lower information density means sites will need to adjust to user preferences and profiles to customize the information they present. Increasingly, the Internet will become unusable unless sites believe they know who you are. Some services will handle these tasks themselves, but the most likely contenders for supplying digital identity credentials are Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter, and mobile carriers.

Sharing by default
In a mobile-focused Internet, anonymity becomes rare. Virtually every mobile device can be definitively associated with a single person (or small group of people). Defaults to share information and experiences with social circles and followers will be increasingly common, along with increasing reliance on disclosure of personal information (like location, status, and activities, and social connections) to drive key functionality. As the Internet re-orients around mobile, opting out of sharing will increasingly mean opting out of the Internet.

Emphasis on destination
Internet-based sites and services will increasingly function as a combination of content and functionality reluctant to link out to other sites or drive traffic (and potential advertising revenue) elsewhere. These have long been factors in many sites’ designs but mobile devices amplify these considerations by making traditional Web navigation awkward and difficult. Still URLs are not going to die – people will still send links to their friends and Web search will remain most users primary means of finding information online.

Going light weight
As people rely on mobile, cloud, and broadband services, the necessity to do things like commute, store large volumes of records or media, or patronize physical businesses will decline. Businesses won’t need to save years of invoices, statements, and paperwork in file boxes and storage facilities – cloud storage comes as their rescue. Banks will become purely virtual institutions consumers deal with online via their phones. Distance learning and collaborative tools will let students take their coursework with them anywhere — and eliminate the need to worry about reselling enormous textbooks.

Going mobile is an obvious trend today. Experts envisage that nearly every service, business, and person who wants to use the Internet will be thinking mobile first and PC second, if they think about PCs at all. Do you agree? And what other related changes can you imagine?

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

Aliona Kavalevich

Aliona Kavalevich
Aliona.Kavalevich@altabel.com
Skype ID: aliona_kavalevich
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Unity as a company has one mission: help games developers be more successful. Unity is one of the top game development platforms, routinely seen powering the biggest games on a multitude of platforms such as Castle Warriors, Battle Bears, Max & the Magic Marker, CSR Racing, Temple Run and Shadowgun and now it is the turn of Windows Phone to get in on the Unity action!

The decision to bring Unity to Windows Phone was driven by an upwelling of requests from developers and gamers alike. Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason has announced during the opening keynote of the Unite 12 in Amsterdam the 6th Annual Developer Conference that its game creation platform Unity will be supporting Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 after the update to Unity 4 version.

“Our mission at Unity has always been to provide solutions for developers to effortlessly bring their work to as many different platforms as possible,” said David Helgason.
Microsft senior director of Windows app marketing John Richards added: “We are excited that the Unity community will now be given the opportunity to develop world class titles for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.

Let’s try to see why it is a big deal for game development world to support and bring game development on windows 8 and windows phone 8 !

Helgason claims that 53 per cent of mobile developers have made use of the Unity engine, with 300,000 of them active on a monthly basis.
Unity licenses are available for almost all other modern gaming platforms — including iOS, Android, Xbox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3 — and the engine has been used to create popular mobile games such as Shadowgun.
Now the developers community is ready and willing to bring their games to the new versions of Windows. While do we have guarantee that developers will do it painless and not taking too much time and efforts?

It is the known fact that Windows Phone 7 never really got off the ground as a gaming platform, but its successor got an early boost today in the shape of Unity support. Windows Phone (like iOS and Android) has some heavy and understandable restrictions on how things can be done. Helgason previously said that Unity didn’t support Windows Phone 7 due to its “relatively closed” nature, but expressed hope that Windows 8 would prove easier to work with. David was keen to point out that it’s no more a problem of Windows Phone 8 than any other mobile OS. Only in the last few months has the project reached the level where they are confident they are able to deliver the goods.

Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 are to share the same core so it was of interest to hear David’s thoughts on just how similar the two are platforms really are. He thinks that the two resemble more closely how Apples iOS and OSX look in terms of game development. The desktop OS naturally gives up huge amounts of resources whilst the mobile OS is far more restricted. Whilst the cores are the same, the amount that can be achieved on each platform varies greatly.

When it comes to Windows Phone 8, we’re going to see an entirely new base specification, improved GFX handling and dual core CPU. David’s feeling is that Microsoft are putting out sensible guidelines for their next gen hardware. It’s a well-known problem with Android that often times the superior hardware can’t be utilized properly or devices simply aren’t capable of rendering 3D at all. In this regard, Microsoft is making the right move by ensuring the spec of the devices remains a known constant.
But to my point of view it is hard to say either way if Microsoft have done enough with their next OS to ensure it’s a rock solid gaming platform, it’s still too early to tell.

Personally me along with many developers and just game lovers have a really good sense that Windows Phone 8 is going to work really well as a gaming platform.

There had been invested so much into the platform and to be honest it is designed very well. The Unity lovers have a good feeling that Windows Phone 8 is going to be big.
For developers using Unity and the company itself, the prospects for mobile games sales are huge. Even if the platform remains the third of fourth eco system, it will still present a valuable extra market for developers to target. For a game developer, once they have made a game in Unity, porting it to another platform is very straightforward. The economics of porting the games to other platforms like Windows Phone are actually very attractive. That should bode very well for future games releases on WP8. With little or no work in actually porting, there is almost nothing to lose in releasing to the Marketplace.

To show a positive perspective I would give the example of Microsoft’s Build developer conference held at the company’s campus in Redmond, WA, where Tony Garcia, Unity EVP of Business Development, took the stage during the mobile keynote to talk about Unity’s commitment to Windows Phone 8 by demonstrating just how empowering development for the platform can be for new and existing Unity-authored games and apps.
Tony spoke while Field Engineer Corey Johnson toured the Unity development environment, using a level from Madfinger’s Shadowgun as the example project. The short demonstration provided onlookers (both on-site and online) unfamiliar with Unity a good idea of the power, versatility, and efficiency of the tools. As Tony talked, Corey demonstrated how easily projects can be changed between platforms and built for Windows Phone 8 in Unity.

Shadowgun was then demonstrated running on a Windows Phone 8 mobile device and it looked mighty fantastic.
It’s clear that Unity is going to play a big role in the early months of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 device availability with games like Shadowgun, Ski Safari, and Temple Run headlining a number of other amazing Unity-authored titles. And as the Shadowgun level demonstrates, things are looking good!
“The number of high-quality Unity-authored games for the PC, Xbox, and mobile devices already created is staggering and we’re looking forward to seeing these products appear in the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Marketplace,” senior director of Windows app marketing at Microsoft John Richards said.

To summarize all said above I would say that I am both excited and positive about Windows Phone 8′s gaming future. Unity should help light up Windows Phone 8 as a gaming platform. With Unity, Porting games to and from Windows Phone should take only a couple of days isn’t it great?!
While we couldn’t learn about future games coming to Windows Phone 8, I were assured that we are going to be very excited to see what’s coming. It is really interesting to observe who and how many developers are switching to developing for Windows Phone now that Unity is coming to the platform? How quickly people will be following it? What thoughts and “forecast” do you have in mind? I have a strong feeling that Things are about to change :) .. And you?

Polina Mikhan

Polina Mikhan
Polina.Mikhan@altabel.com
Skype ID: poly1020
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Lots of companies think about developing mobile clients for their services for Widows Phone and Windows 8. In most cases mobile clients for iOS/Android have already been created and company’s objective is to port them to Windows mobile platforms. In this article I’d like to talk about questions/problems/peculiarities companies and developers can face porting their apps to WP and Win8.

What’s important to know about Modern UI interface?

Windows Phone and Windows 8, unlike iOS for instance, are authentically digital platforms. What it means can be easily explained on the example of a bookshelf for iOS, where human’s behavior while reading a magazine or a book is imitated from the real life – we go to the bookshelf, take a magazine, open it and flip it through. The same process for Windows Phone looks absolutely separated from the real life and is initially oriented to the digital world, where the concept of “bookshelf” is missing at all.

A second distinction from iOS/Android is an emphasis on content and action orientation. In Windows Phone and Windows 8 phone numbers and e-mail addresses are written in small fonts, while actions like “call” or” “send e-mail” in the big ones. Large fonts and shifts is another Metro feature. It should be definitely taken into account while designing interfaces.

Other peculiarities of the platforms

1) Mostly, Android is tied to Google eco-system, iOS – to Apple, Windows Phone and Windows 8 – to Microsoft eco-system accordingly. This can be both an advantage and a drawback. For example, it will be easier to work with office documents, but instead of tight integration with Dropbox you will be proposed to use SkyDrive.

2) Platform limitations. Windows Phone is a rather strict platform. There are clear limits for application start time, sizes of downloaded files depending on the kind of Internet connection, quantity of background operations etc. Due to such limitations even “native” for Windows Phone Skype doesn’t always work as it is expected from a proper messenger.

3) Specific requirements for Windows 8 scenarios. There are so called contracts in Windows 8 – Search, Share etc., with the help of which such scenarios as “search in application”, “repost smth in social networks” or “open the file in another application” are performed. It should be separately said about Settings and Share – in Windows 8 they should be only in the sidebar. Duplication of functionality inside the application is highly undesirable.

Navigation bar in Windows Phone and Windows 8 differ. Windows Phone has mostly linear navigation (non-linear navigation is allowed only in exceptional cases and thoroughly tested), while Windows 8 is more loyal to the navigation model. Moreover, you will have to think over the possibility of a quick access to the application main screens from any screen.

4) Windows Phone 7.5 vs. Widows Phone 8. You should remember that at the moment there are several main Windows Phone versions:

• Mango — Windows Phone 7.5 (512 MB of memory);
• Mango — Windows Phone 7.8 (512 MB of memory) — the update has not been released yet;
• Tango — Windows Phone 7.5 (256 MB of memory);
• Apollo — Windows Phone 8.

If you’ve decided to support 7.x platform, you need to think whether the application will support Tango devices (budget ones) that are more sensitive to the memory used by the applications. In case you need NFC or in-app purchases (IAP), you should straightway focus on Windows Phone 8.0 or support two versions of the application (7.x and 8.x).

Thanks for consideration. In case you have some thoughts to add on the topic or even have already ported some app from iOS/Android to WP or Win8, I’d be glad to see your comments here.

Thank you,

Nadya Klim

Nadya Klim
Nadya.Klim@altabel.com
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

As you may know, the main thing which Windows 8 has adopted from Windows Phone is live tiles; a user can see them right after the computer starts. The more popularity Windows 8 will gain, the more people will wonder: what are the tiles for? What’s the use of them?

Potential customers are already a bit familiar with live tiles conception, for example, from the Nokia Lumia advertisement. Hence, they imagine what kind of information is displayed on them. Nevertheless, the number of those who are familiar with live tiles is negligible in comparison with the number of potential Windows 8 users. In the next two years Modern interface in Windows 8 is expected to cause confusion.

People will either love or hate these live tiles. But anyway Windows Phone 8 interface will seem familiar for Windows 8 users, even if they’ve never seen those smartphones. The same is with Windows Phone users – Windows 8 interface should be known to them.

Huge attention has been given to cloud integration in Windows 8. The same thing is for Windows Phone: products for these platforms and for Xbox 360 as well will be able to interact through SkyDrive and Xbox services tied up to Microsoft account (former Live ID).

Office and OneNote products for Windows Phone have already stored documents in SkyDrive, and now Office 2013 applications can do the same. It means you can create a document on one platform and continue your work on another one, and the application automatically determines where you’ve stopped your work last time. Photos made with WP-smartphone can be automatically uploaded to SkyDrive, and then they are automatically displayed in Windows 8 gallery. The same is with Facebook.

Also, Microsoft is going to implement tablets and phones interaction with Xbox 360 console. For this purpose SmartGlass application is to be released. The application will allow mobile devices to work as a console remote control and will display context information on the screen. Thus, smartphone or tablet may be used as a secondary screen in the games. Let me remind you that Xbox Live achievements are already synchronized among games versions for different platforms. Xbox Music service will provide an access to the music store and free broadcast from any device. Microsoft is not forcing to use Windows Phone, company’s service integration is available for other platforms as well, although in Windows Phone 7 and 8 it is more fully implemented. SkyDrive and OneNote clients are available for Symbian (only uploading files to the services), Android and iOS (with full functionality). According to Microsoft, next year service Xbox Music will become available for Android and iOS users. Microsoft has shown an excellent example of respectable attitude to its users.

For some time computer and mobile OSes resemblance will be only external. Although porting from Windows to Windows Phone is a quite simple process, users will have to buy separately the same application for different platforms.

It is the first time we see common interface in mobile and computer OSes. Earlier Microsoft was trying to port desktop Windows interface to smartphones on Windows Mobile. While now the company ports mobile sensor interface into computer operating system. Even Apple haven’t ventured on this.

The decision to use 2 kinds of interface in Windows 8 –desktop and Modern- is certainly rather controversial. The company risks encounter users’ complaint, who will confuse these interfaces and spend their time to find where the needed program starts from.

The situation can change only if lots of blue-chip Windows 8 applications appear in Windows Store. In this case users will be able to give up traditional desktop mode and switch fully to the Modern one.

For starting most of the applications desktop mode is needed, but in prospect more and more applications will start in Modern interface. Popularity and demand for Modern interface fully depends on applications developers. Currently there are relatively few applications in Windows Store – only 8,5 thousand. In case the quantity of applications for Windows 8 grows the same as for Windows Phone, in a couple of years there will be more than 100 thousand of them. By the way, many Windows Phone applications can be installed as trials version, which do not go separately from full versions. Let’s compare it with Android and iOS, where trial and full versions are two different applications.

After users start switching from Windows 7 to Windows 8, the number of Windows Phone 8 users will grow, opening huge perspectives in front of applications developers. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 work on the common core, which allows easily porting from one platform to another one. Huge amount of Windows8 users will inevitably pay their attention to the mobile version of this platform – Windows Phone 8. The interface will be familiar to them, applications will be the same, why not buy such a smartphone?

Thank you for consideration. I know there are still lots of opponents of the OSes discussed, but I’m eager to learn your thoughts on Windows 8 and WP 8, and first impressions as well.

Best regards,

Nadya Klim

Nadya Klim
Nadya.Klim@altabel.com
Business Development Manager
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


%d bloggers like this: