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Posts Tagged ‘Windows

There has been a lot of talk about the dirge sounding for the Firefox browser. With a marked nosedive in market share (roughly 15%), the one-time king of the browse war has now fallen into third place (behind Internet Explorer and Chrome). As most pundits are scratching their heads, I’m fairly certain that there’s a clear reason for this change:

Google.

The 15% market share applies only to desktop browsers. Once you move to mobile… all bets are off. But why? What has shifted to cause Firefox to drop so sharply? Is it a bad product? Honestly, to the majority of users (I’m talking “average user” here), a browser is a browser is a browser. The biggest difference to the average user is the use of “Favorites” over “Bookmarks.” Since most users wouldn’t even know Firefox from Internet Explorer, how could this change have happened?

Again, I say… Google.

Actually, I should be more specific and say Chrome — or even better, Chrome OS and Android.

From November 2013 to the end of the year, a reported 21% of all laptops sold were Chromebooks. Worldwide, Android takes nearly 81% of the mobile market share. That’s a LOT of Google-based browsers out there. I don’t think it’s a huge leap of logic to assume a vast percentage of those users would have been, otherwise, using Firefox.

Let me present myself a case in point. For the longest time, I was a devout Firefox user. But then I discovered a few of the Chrome apps/extensions (such as Tweetdeck) and added Chrome to my Linux desktop. Then I adopted a Chromebook as a laptop. Since I really only do two things on a laptop (write and browse), it made perfect sense. Add to this the fact that my smartphone platform has been Android for what seems like forever, plus the mobile version of Firefox is dreadful, and you have the makings for a typical migration from Firefox to Chrome.

Let’s be honest — as long as the browser gets the job done, it doesn’t matter which browser you use.

  • Unless you’re on a Chromebook
  • Or on Android
  • Or you depend on Google Apps

You can see the pattern here, right? It’s like third-party politics in the United States. Many people don’t vote for third parties because it takes away votes from the party they once championed. In this case — every person using Chrome is one less person using Firefox. Why?

Caution: generalization coming…

Most people who use Internet Explorer simply don’t know that the product they’re using is inferior to every other product of its kind (either that or they depend on a site that was written ONLY for IE). So, there’s little to no chance they’ll jump ship to either Firefox or Chrome.

So, what is Mozilla to do? Well, they’re busy focusing on the Firefox OS, which is akin to Ubuntu focusing on the Ubuntu Phone — it’s detracting from what they’ve always done really well in exchange for jumping into a ring with two of the heaviest hitters in the history of the game — Android and iOS.

And then there’s that advertising deal with Google that’s about to expire. The majority of Mozilla’s income is from that deal, and Google has less reason to continue on with that search agreement. Google no longer needs the advertising real estate from a browser suffering from a possible slow death. Should Google pull this, Mozilla will have to pull off a miracle to stay in the fight.

However, there’s good news. You can’t forget that Firefox is an open-source browser. That means, even if Firefox were to die, another batch of forks would appear. So, even if Google Chrome were to knock Firefox out of the ring, more contenders will appear to take up the gloves. But even a horde of forks are not likely to pull Firefox from the slow Chrome burn. Google isn’t going anywhere but up. As Chromebooks and Android continue to take over the mobile planet (and users become less tethered to their desks), Firefox will continue to suffer.

Firefox is still a quality product. But like Internet Explorer, it’s facing a foe that’s stronger, faster, and more agile. That new opponent is poised to take over nearly everything it touches. Fortunately (for users, not the competition), that new foe offers a stellar product on every platform (Linux, Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Android, and iOS). Chrome is the only browser on the planet that can make that claim (as Chrome is the only browser that will run on Chrome OS) – a claim that’s becoming ever more important in a world gone mad for mobile.

I don’t have a prediction for Firefox. Will it die? Will it become an “arm” of Google? Will it get a second wind and, thus, a second life? No one really knows at this point. If I had to make a guess, I’d say both Firefox and IE will fall to Chrome. The difference is that IE is embedded into the psyche of many users, so it won’t suffer as much as Firefox.

The gloves are off and Chrome is set to rumble. How do you think this fight will end? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

Kristina Kozlova

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

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

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

Seems like the world is pushed towards HTML5. Apple has been amongst those trying so hard to get Web developers out of the Flash domination, and judging by the latest news of Adobe becoming HTML5-religious Apple’s anti-Flash campaign was successful. Becoming stronger and better polished HTML5 looks to supplant not only Flash but also press back such mobile giants as Apple, Google and Windows.

Recently the popular prediction has become that HTML5 will kill mobile apps business. The logic is simple: better HTML5 => higher quality developer’s tools release => better Web apps => improved Web-browsing experience on mobile devices. All these make the native applications position pretty unsteady. So will it necessarily lead to the twilight of native mobile apps development? At first glance – all point to this supposition. Still let’s take a deeper dig.

1. All the look and feel.
Native apps are intended to look glossier and perform better than their browser-based counterparts. As they are developed separately for each mobile platform and therefore use advantage of being OS customized and smartphones’ hardware features advanced. But will native apps preserve this advantage for a long time? Sounds doubtful…due to several reasons.
First, because to the growing variety of mobile platforms and their sub/versions. Recently developers have to spend more and more efforts on versioning and support and this is indeed exhausting and expensive. So perhaps the biggest potential benefit of HTML5 is that it will enable app developers to focus on making one version of each app running smoothly in many kinds of browsers, thus freeing them to move on to bringing more and better apps to market. And that’s definitely good, especially keeping in mind that a well-designed Web app can be indistinguishable from a native application for the user, but not ideal in this terms as still HTML5 browser apps run differently from browser to browser and from device to device making it quite difficult for developers to ensure that all mobile consumers will enjoy the way an app works in their setup.
Another point of concern so far has been that, despite all HTML5 improvements, in real-life use cases native apps still run better, faster and more predictably than browser apps. It’s natural because mostly native apps run from the phone’s memory and rely less on the network. But that’s surmountable with time – with the advent of 4G networks users will be able to retrieve content from the network far faster and more reliably than in the past.

2. Visibility and promotion.
After creating a quality application your next step will be to make it visible and popular longest possible. Native apps published in an app store may receive very little notice as app stores have grown and become bloated with shoddy or useless apps and thus accessing apps has become more of a hassle. The main issue is poor organizing and categorizing that results in difficulties to find a proper app for user’s need even if it exists in the store. Still poor cataloging of apps at big app stores could be smoothed over by specialized app stores.
Browser-based mobile apps spare developers app stores addiction and lend themselves better to Web promotion via social media like Twitter and Google+. Still even if it seems easier at first glance isn’t it still a challenge in terms of making visibility better and longer but not seen for a fleeting moment? For those creating Web apps, there’s just no good way and even a good review of a Web app on a popular site has only a temporary impact.
The way to get your app in front of potential customers is to get it featured in an app store. And this is gained by building an app that highlights unique hardware capabilities, exactly the features the hardware company use to sell the product. [These will likely be features that you can't access today or in the foreseeable future with a Web app. This isn't because HTML5 won't advance, but because the device and OS manufacturers will always do their best to keep their products somewhat ahead of the lower-common-denominator Web platform. It is how they sell products.] That’s business-justified. So HTML5 is good for many apps, enterprise and customer ones, but not for the core features or the main UI.
Basically relying on HTML5 to quickly get to broad compatibility across the mobile landscape could become a trap if you follow selective strategy in your product distribution and want to have the app perceived distinguishing. For instance, you might want to build apps that only work on the latest and greatest version of a phone, and intentionally not on previous models. Then fewer people will be able to use it but those with the newest toys. [The more your app makes the hot new hardware look good, the more it'll get promoted by the hardware or OS manufacturer. That can give your app presence it could not otherwise get. Once your product is succeeding on the brand-new hardware, you can start adapting it to other platforms.] Doesn’t this strategy distributed strategy look the most attractive?

3. Distribution and revenue generating.
As you may predict here we will mostly speak of Apple and its revenue-sharing mechanisms that has been receiving so many claims. Apple takes a 30% cut of all app sales through its store – the only way for consumers to get apps. That’s much compared to an option to build a web app and putting the whole revenue in your own pocket. This is especially unfavorable for applications with subscriptions as surprisingly this 30% cut doesn’t just cover buying apps in the store, it also applies to in-app purchases including subscriptions that may remove all the profit. That’s why for instance you can already download HTML5 Financial Times :)

So many counterpoints but should there finally be an either/or decision? The truth is somewhere in between. And we believe for the majority there may be a place for both kinds of apps. Just an example – you can create a browser-based “lite” version of your app so that prospective buyers can try it out without having to visit an app store; and further if they like the game, they might decide to buy the full version as a native app.
Moreover, developers build many native apps in much the same way that they build browser apps, using the same tools, but then fit them with a native app “wrapper.” For this reason, native apps and browser apps sometimes aren’t as different as people may imagine.

And what do you think?
In your particular case what have you decided or are going to opt for?

Thanks for sharing your opinion,
Helen Boyarchuk
Altabel Group – professional software development

Windows 8: The death of the silverlight framework? That was the question that I asked to LI users and it triggered a great deal of debate. And now we can say for sure that Silverlight is dead , my friends. Certainly it won`t happen right now, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, as the customers won`t rush to use Windows 8 soon after its release, still there remain little time before Silverlight “passes away”. I am not happy about it, but I am also no longer in denial. In case Microsoft doesn’t change course Silverlight, as well as Flash and some other plug-in technologies, will be effectively unusable when Windows 8 is released.

On September 14th it was announced that the Metro-style browser in Windows 8 does not support plug-ins. The Metro-style browser is the full screen, chromeless implementation of Internet Explorer that most people are expected to use with Windows 8.

Dean Hachamovitch : “ For the web to move forward and for consumers to get the most out of touch-first browsing, the Metro style browser in Windows 8 is as HTML5-only as possible, and plug-in free. The experience that plug-ins provide today is not a good match with Metro style browsing and the modern HTML5 web.”

So it means no Flash, no QuickTime, no PDF readers, and no Silverlight.

Why is it so? “Metro-style browser can’t support plugins. Metro is not based on the Win32 libraries, it uses an entirely new OS-level API known as Windows Runtime or WinRT. Since the plug-ins are most likely built on Win32 components such as GDI they would have to be completely rewritten to run under Metro”.

And now let`s talk about the loses. The companies most invested in Silverlight are not loosing so much and appear to be in a rather good situation. Such companies have been adopting Silverlight, and Flex, for use in internal applications. “This sort of application generally have no HTML and simply use the browser as a delivery mechanism. As such these applications can be ported to the Metro runtime with surprisingly little effort. A new distribution mechanism will be needed, but something like the Windows app store for enterprises is undoubtedly in the works”.

The companies that will suffer most of all are those that use Flash or Silverlight to augment their websites. Since they cannot simply port their code to Metro they will need to go rewrite the components from scratch using HTML and JavaScript.

So what are your thoughts of this sad news? Is there any future now for Silverlight or Silverlight 5 will be the last major release?

Kind regards,
Anna Kozik – Business Development Manager (LI page)
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer stressed some weeks ago that Windows is “the backbone product of Microsoft” now and into the future: “Windows PCs, Windows Phones, Windows slates…” What do you think? Is Windows Microsoft’s biggest strength or a weakness going forward?

When IBM was still working with technology and marketing mainframe solutions, they almost missed the boat entirely as computers got smaller and more powerful. Microsoft’s value proposition is wrapped up in their operating system and their market share, so much so they’ve put it on everything. Once someone can topple their 95% ownership of the market, they’ll need to do something else. Since they seem to know that, they’re doing everything they can to protect it.

Eggs all in one basket? Probably. But it’s a lot of eggs and a huge basket. In fact, it’s monopoly. It doesn’t matter. They can do, or not do, whatever they want. If 1/2 the world stop using Windows tomorrow, they’d still be the biggest software co and biggest software product in the world. 4 or 5 times over all the other competitors combined, that is a winning business and product.

Like it or not, the Microsoft Windows platform still dominates desktops around the world. As do its Office products like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There may be much better, more elegant, more efficient products out there. But most of us still rely on some version of the Windows OS and its Office suite to run our businesses. So yes, Windows is strength for Microsoft, despite its flaws, because we are all so familiar with the way it looks and works.

Kind Regards,
Lina Deveikyte
Altabel Group – professional software development

The old-fashioned PC paradigm has run out of gas. As conventional Windows systems are too hard to manage and pose too much of a security risk so that sales are declining. For lack of a better alternative, you may need to live with Windows for the foreseeable future. But now that the sins of Vista and the antiquarian vulnerabilities of Windows XP have been corrected by Windows 7, what could possibly induce you to upgrade to Windows 8?

The answer may lie in the latest build of Windows 8, where Hyper-V 3.0 can be found in Control Panel.
Why? Because that could give the best possible solution for desktop virtualization. Today’s prevalent model for desktop virtualization is VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure), where Windows clients run in virtual machines on a server in the data center. VDI delivers centralized management and security, but it also demands heavy-duty server hardware, sufficient network bandwidth, and a constant connection between server and “client” (typically a dumb terminal), which rules out mobility.

Hyper-V’s role may be in Windows 8, runs a virtual Windows desktop on the client rather than the server. This would give the ability to run without a connection to the server, so users can take their Windows virtual machines with them on a laptop or tablet, and IT still enjoys all the manageability and security benefits of VDI.

Users could run multiple Windows versions to support legacy applications, Linux versions supported by Hyper-V, or, as Peter Bruzzese speculates, even Windows Phone 7 apps. Users could even bring their Macs to work and, Apple willing, Hyper-V could slip right under Mac OS X, allowing the company’s Windows virtual machine to run alongside.

One big advantage to IT is that it would no longer need to manage end-user hardware, just the business virtual machine downloaded to it. In other words, users could buy and maintain their own personal computing device, as long as it could run the business virtual machine.

IT gets a cost lower than that of VDI and with significantly less complexity.

Could Windows 8 change everything? :)

Best Regards,
Elvira Golyak
Altabel Group


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