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For years Microsoft has been the de facto desktop operating system. Now Apple is using its mobile devices to steal market and mindshare.

Pundits have long expected Apple to integrate its desktop and mobile operating systems; however, recent announcements at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) show that the company is doing far more than borrowing user interface elements. After some tentative starts, Apple has embarked on a full-scale integration between the company’s phone and desktop devices. With new releases of the software powering each, your laptop will soon be answering phone calls, and your phone will share text messages with your desktop, allowing you to fire off a missive from your MacBook to a colleague’s Android smartphone using standard text messaging. While not totally unexpected, the depth of integration is fairly impressive, and doubly so since I couldn’t help wondering during the announcements: why hadn’t Microsoft done this?

A constantly unfinished puzzle

By nearly any metric, Microsoft was years ahead of Apple in the smartphone and tablet space. While Apple was restructuring a fractured business and “playing” with handheld devices in the form of the Newton, Microsoft had produced several generations of its own PDA, and eventually a full-fledged smartphone that was feature rich, but failed to build a compelling user interface around its advanced feature set. Over half a decade before the iPhone launched, a lifetime in mobile technology, Microsoft was introducing tablets, only to be wiped off the face of the map by the iPad. Microsoft’s most obvious advantage in the mobile space was its dominance of the desktop.

If anyone built a mobile device that integrated tightly with the desktop, it should have been Microsoft.

Technology versus usability

While Microsoft may have missed a historic opportunity, more recently the company has been touting its merging of significant portions of its mobile and desktop code. Even user interface elements have begun to cross-pollinate, with the “modern” user interface that first appeared in Windows Phone featuring prominently on desktops and tablets. However, this technical integration is indicative of Microsoft’s larger problem.

As a company, Microsoft’s Achilles’ heel has been an inability to fully integrate different elements of its computing empire, and to present a user experience tailored to the task at hand, not pounded into a contrived, pre-existing Windows metaphor. From the Start button and stylus on a mobile phone, to its most recent technical integration of its environments that completely lacks in end-user benefit, Microsoft is missing the boat on developing a holistic computing experience. Frankly, I don’t care if my desktop and smartphone are running completely incompatible code from totally different vendors, as long as they’ll share information and work seamlessly together.

The Switzerland of computing?

While Microsoft may have missed this opportunity for its own devices, it still represents a key player in the overall computing landscape, and the long-predicted “demise of Windows” is likely several years away, if it occurs at all. An integrated experience between Microsoft smartphones and Windows desktops won’t meet with much excitement, primarily due to the limited market penetration of Windows phones. What would be interesting, however, is if Microsoft were to use its desktop dominance to integrate tightly with devices from Apple, Google, and others.

Such integration might seem far-fetched, but Microsoft already does this to an extent, with its Exchange server happily sharing mail, contacts, and calendars between everything from phones and tablets to laptops and web apps. Microsoft also has decades of experience integrating diverse hardware, and producing operating systems that run well on millions of combinations of hardware is no small feat. Just as Apple’s original iPod hit its stride when the company made it available for PCs, Microsoft could accelerate its cloud services and desktop OS, and ultimately make a compelling case for Windows Phone by providing tight integration with several mobile vendors.

In the mid and long terms, “winning” the mobility wars is not going to be about who sells the most devices, especially as computing transitions away from single devices and into a multi-platform, multi-device world. Microsoft has a chance to regain lost ground by tightly integrating its desktop and cloud services with today’s devices, allowing it to define tomorrow’s computing experience.

 

Kristina Kozlova

Kristina Kozlova
Kristina.Kozlova@altabel.com
Skype ID: kristinakozlova
Marketing Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Over the years dynamic languages such as Python and Ruby have become cherished by startups. As for .Net it is more rarely heard to be used by startups. That’s interesting indeed, because this platform is definitely bigger than most of the popular ones.

So I wonder why a platform as widely adopted and supported as .NET isn’t more visible in startup culture. Let’s try figuring out the main arguments in favor and against making .Net a startup technical choice.

1. Community culture

 Some people say the main reason is the culture of the .NET community itself, not anything specific to the platform. Being centered mostly around the needs of enterprise market .NET developers’ concerns are often regarding supporting legacy systems, building enterprise architectures, large systems for supporting business processes. This implies solving problems which are not so relevant for startups at least at their initial point.

As for members of the startup community, they fuss over different issues – concurrency, experience design, supporting multiple clients and browsers, etc.

As a result the startup community and the .NET community don’t overlap as much as they do for other technologies. That’s why startup founders don’t get much exposure to .Net and don’t think of it as an applicable tool for their purposes. The same way many .Net developers who want to work for hot startups don’t have as many opportunities to do so unless they abandon the platform for a more startup-friendly one or start a company themselves.

So platform doesn’t always dictate its use – that’s people who make the choice. Enterprise and startups aren’t mutually exclusive – they’re just different stages in the evolution of software, and there’s no reason why the startup community shouldn’t look at .NET as an attractive starting point for a new business.

2. Startup tech compatibility

A startup is a risky venture with no guarantee of success. So tech startups seek advantages in order to succeed. Hence startups take what big enterprises consider risky bets on technology. This objective can be achieved by using technology that is popular in startup environment.

Many features of .NET, facilitating the productivity of big companies, are not always useful to startups. There is too much choice of implementation methods. If anything, web startups are looking to have this choice taken away – their technology choices come from the subset that is built for the web.

Also it is said that innovation is quicker with other ecosystems which have a bigger set of libraries and tools. As for .Net there are a few open source projects however most of them are pretty much an implementation of concepts that have already been implemented for a while in the Java world, for example.

3. Open source vs proprietary

Although many startups don’t mind paying for tools and services, most of them still pick things based on cost. For a long time the “enterprise” level tools, services, databases, etc were hardly affordable by startups. That’s why startups adopt so much open source.

It’s also hard to justify the use of proprietary software from a business perspective. If you want to be acquired it is wise to develop your product using an open stack rather than Microsoft’s.

However luckily for many startups Microsoft saw a huge value in giving their stuff away to startups and startups have benefited greatly. Microsoft has been running their Bizspark program for several years, which eliminates most of the startup costs normally associated with employing a .NET framework. To get into the BizSpark program you just need to get checked by BizSpark team if your startup is eligible (developing a real product). Then you’ll get free licenses to basically every product they make, including SQL Server, and a free MSDN gold subscription, for 3 years. They figure 3 years is long enough for you to get going so after that they want you to pay for new licenses. The great part is that they let you keep the licenses you’re already using. So Microsoft has basically taken the cost factor completely out of the equation for new startups.

4. Velocity vs performance

Some people say that it’s all about the velocity. If you agree with an assumption that a startup goal is to find a niche vs build a product, then the goal of a startup is to learn about the market, customers, and product needs as quickly as possible. Python, Js, Ruby, etc allow you to iterate quickly without a lot of infrastructure and boilerplate. However a company that has already has a market has a little different goal, for them the objective is to build a stable product that they can maintain.

Some people say that .Net is not suitable for quick changes. This is a pretty outdated view of C# these days, it’s actually fairly easy to write extremely terse code with. As an added bonus refactoring is so incredibly easy compared to JS, Ruby, Python, etc. that it’s ideal for rapidly switching directions in code as you can refactor so fearlessly without being slowed down by massive amounts of tests. Unfortunately what’s bad about .Net is the tooling and the supporting ecosystem.

Python is much better suited to quick prototypes that can be fleshed out into a reasonably reliable product without too many headaches. The key difference comes when you have to change features mid-stream. The lack of strict typing and interfaces means you can add, change, and remove features much quicker than C# for example. On top of that, you just write fewer actual lines of code to get the same thing done, although sometimes readability can suffer if you get too concise. There is a price to be paid with Python and Ruby though and performance is the biggest one.

5. Team and project size

The team and project size always matters. So when the solution is being built with a small team, then it is easier to use something like Python. Obviously the goal is to be fast to develop in and have a bunch of libraries to be used. On the other hand when building something with a big team, you feel like using something like C#. In this case it keeps it safe to develop in and easy to catch mistakes. Any optional documentation provided by a developer is incomplete. On the contrary the quality level of the available .Net documentation is outstanding.

However if the company is starting as very small at the initial point, it hopefully grows and builds up quite a sizeable codebase by some point. Python, JS & Ruby are fine for small programs but anything more than that and they become their own enemies because the programs they make are quite brittle.

6. Scalability

The common opinion is that .Net scales well.So, if your startup does make it, you’ll probably have a much easier time scaling the .Net stack than you would with say Ruby or PHP.

Conclusion: it’s all about stereotyping

Eventually, I found different opinions on my question of .Net being not so popular with startups such as “platform lock-in,” “no open standards,” “licensing costs.” Sure, these are issues preventing many developers from adopting .NET in the startup space, but not enough to bar all of them from using it. Most of the arguments are just stereotypes that can be dispelled under closer examination.

All languages have strengths and weaknesses. For a startup, you need to do due-diligence and research what the right language to use for your idea will be because recoding in a different language can get costly.

So do you use .Net in your startup projects? Please share your feedback and experiences with us.

 

Aliona Kavalevich

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

The IT sector is flourishing. If you’ve used a computer for at least a couple of times in the last few years, you’ve probably noticed this. I’ve noticed it myself even more after a business trip to Stockholm where I was lucky to attend some conferences and learnt more about Swedish IT industry tendencies. These tendencies reflect our life in general. Life changes rapidly with new technologies bursting into it. And when it comes to programming languages, we get a chance to see very different trendy styles. Programming languages which were popular some years ago are not useful today. And no one can exactly predict which programming language will be popular in future. That’s why a programmer who wants to stay in developer fields has to adopt the right programming language from time to time.

As the Swedish software maker Erik Starck pointed out, “programming is about managing complexities”. And it’s really so. An understanding of at least one programming language makes an impressive addition to any CV nowadays.

It is also very difficult to get the exact number of users for any programming language. Many of us use multiple programming languages. The more experience you have, the more programming languages you use. The more programs you write or work with, the chances of using more languages rise. The larger the company, the more languages you’re likely to use.

There are a number of ways to measure the popularity of a programming language, for example, based on the number of: 1) new applications written in the language; 2) existing applications written in the language; 3) developers that use the language primarily; 4) developers that use the language ever; 5) web searches; 6) available jobs that require skills in the language; 7) developers’ favorites, etc.

My survey attempts to rank which programming languages are most popular in Sweden, each using a different measure. So, they are the following:

1) Python

Python is an object-oriented programming language which allows developers to work quickly while integrating their systems more efficiently and effectively. Designed by Guido van Rossum in 1991, Python is one of the most easy to use programming languages.

Python is characterized by its use of indentation for readability, and its encouragement for elegant code by making developers do similar things in similar ways.

Top Employers: Amazon, Dell, Google, eBay, Instagram, Yahoo

2) Java

Java is a class-based, object-oriented programming language founded by Sun Microsystems in 1995. Java is one of the most in-demand programming languages today for many reasons. First of all, it is a well-organized language with a strong library of reusable software components. Secondly, programs written in Java can run on many different computer architectures and operating systems because of the use of the JVM (Java virtual machine).

Top Employers: Amazon, Deloitte, Sun, eBay, Symantec Corporation, Cisco Systems, Samsung

3) C++

C++ is a compiled, multi-paradigm language written as an update to C in 1979 by Bjarne Stroustrup.

Due to its high-level compatibility and object-orientation, C++ is used for developing a wide-range of applications and games which makes it a popular and sought after programming language by the employers.

Top Employers: Intel, the Math Works, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Amazon, Mozilla, Adobe, Volvo

4) Ruby

Ruby is an open source, dynamic programming language designed by Yukihiro Matsumoto in 1995 with a key focus on productivity and simplicity .It is one of the most object-oriented languages in the world.

Ruby is a mix of elegant syntax which is easy to read and write and hence it has attracted many organizations and developers.

Top Employers: Spokes, VMware, Accenture, Cap Gemini, Siemens, BBC, NASA

5) JavaScript

JavaScript is an object-oriented scripting language founded in 1995 by Netscape.

Being a client-side language, it runs in the web browser on the client-side with a simplified set of commands, easier code and no need for compilation.  JavaScript is simple to learn and it is used in millions of web pages to authenticate forms, detect browsers and improve design.

Top Employers: Microsoft, Sales Force, IBM, Yahoo, Dell

6) C#

C# is a compiled, object-oriented language developed by Microsoft.

It is highly used on Windows platform and labelled as the premium language for Microsoft .NET framework. C# is known for strong typing, procedural and functional programming discipline which is the reason it has acquired so much popularity.

Top Employers: Microsoft, HP, Digi-Key Corporation, Allscripts, Intel

Those are the top 6 programming languages which are in great demand among Swedish developers.

And one more thing: remember that opinions are like noses, everyone has one and they all smell ;) If you disagree, please feel free to email me or write your own opinions in the comments.

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

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

Despite the fact that Sweden has not always been a welfare state, now it is quite a stable and prosperous country with a good standard of living, a country, which is constantly developing. Let’s see how this development influences IT market, for example.

 Sweden is making large annual investments in education and research and it is well-known for  its  good  education  level.  Development  has also come into information  and  communications  technology,  where  Sweden  is  one  of  the leading  countries  in  the  world.   However,  the current  problem  in  labor  market  is  that  there  is  not  enough  workforce in service companies, information technology, school system and health care sectors. Despite high technology level, Swedish people love their nature and concern for nature is playing a big role in future decisions. That is why Sweden is also putting a lot of effort to improve the environmental technology, which will be one of the most important industries in the future.

  • Swedish IT sector

is  strongly  bound  to the  development  of  society.  Sweden  has   many  successful  companies  in  IT and  telecommunication  sector  and  the  companies  have  a  great  capacity  of innovation. However from 34 000 of companies in Swedish ICT sector are micro enterprises  with  under  100  000€  turnover. 

IT sector  can be divided into four sub-sectors: Software and IT services,  Tele-and  data  communications,  manufacture  of  hardware  and  retail and services of computer . IT sector in Sweden is mostly dominated by the software market. Most of them have specialized in systems  software  for  communications,  business  systems  and  applications software for telecommunications.

Software products and IT services earn 32% of the turnover in IT-sector. The growth in the software products and IT services has been  very  strong.  The  turnover  has  increased  32.5%  between  the  year  2005 and 2009. The second in the IT-sector is Telecom and datacom services with 27.3%, manufacture of hardware comes next with 24.5% and the fourth largest is retail and servicing the hardware.

Swedish IT-  sector employs about 3.9% of the total Swedish work force. Despite  the economic recession, Swedish IT sector has stayed healthy. The main reason of IT sectors welfare is that the companies in Sweden believe that the  IT-services  and  IT-products  are  essential  for  survival  in  the  future.  IT solutions are the key factor when it comes to make the business more effective and  environmentally  friendly.  That  is  why  the  companies  are  putting  effort  to develop  the  IT  solutions. Especially environmentally friendly  solutions  are  the focus in the future in Sweden. Almost every  company  uses  computers (97%) and 96% of them have an access to Internet. Internet has increased its significance in  doing  business.

  • Mobile services

Are an  increasing  trend  in  business  life.  Already 60% of all companies are using mobile Internet connections in 2010. Swedish  people  are  interested  in  a  product  which  can  increase  their customers’  competitiveness and  increase  the  company’s  value  for  its  owners, customers and another interest groups.

Swedish people are open-minded to test new services and products. The good thing is that they might accept the new product or service very easily, but the challenge is to keep the product or service updated. People in Sweden are well educated  and  they  are  looking  all  the  time  new  innovative  ways  to  run  the business.

  • Conclusions:

- The majority of companies cost  are spent on software research and development. So they are willing to invest on software if they can see the product useful for the business. The most favorable applications  are  such  as  ERP,  CRM,  financial  management  and  information software, on which the companies are spending about 60% of their founds.

-The environmental study concentrated more on macro indicators which means background  forces  behind  the  company’s  activities  such  as  social, technological,  economical  and  political  environment.

-Sweden’s lifestyle  and  culture  form  an  ideal  market place, because they are open-minded to test new services and products. The people  are  well  educated  and  they  are  all  the  time  searching  for new  innovation solutions  to  run  their  business.  The positive point is that the customers are willing to  accept  new  innovation,  but  they  can  also  replace  it  when  they  can  find  a better  solution.  So the  major  challenge  is  to  keep  the  product development up.

- Sweden  is  one  of  the  leading  countries  in the development  of  information  and  communications  technology.  Almost every company has computer and Internet access and already 60% of all companies had  a  mobile  Internet  connection  in  2010.  So, mobile  phones  are  becoming more and more important on daily business.

- Swedish  people  are putting  a  lot  of  effort  to  improve  the  environmental  technology,  so  this  “eco” thinking has a strong position in Swedish culture.

- Sweden is making a lot effort to software research and development and they want to be the top leaders in the software markets by 2020.

-The global software leaders Microsoft, International Business Machines (IBM), Oracle and SAP are also leading the Swedish software markets, but they are controlling particular areas of software branch which is why the local companies have also  acquired  a  good  position  on  the  market.

-Swedish software and IT services have a larger number of companies than the other sub-sectors,  but  most  of  them  are  small  companies.

- IT outsourcing has been a steadily growing part of the Swedish IT market, which is considered to be the largest market within the Nordic region and the 3rd largest in Europe. Every year more Swedish companies decide to outsource. The majority of Swedish companies decide to outsource due to conditions such as a shortage of IT domestic skills and high costs of performing in-house solutions, or a need to re-focus on core competencies. In order to avoid multiplied risks associated to outsourcing.

And what tendencies in Swedish IT market would you like to point out? It is interesting to know your opinion!

 

Katerina Kviatkovskaya

Katerina Kviatkovskaya
Kate.Kviatkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: kate.kviatkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development


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