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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft

Content Management Systems help to control and manage the content of any website where business is efficiently managed. .NET CMS gives you the power you need to develop high-concept, beautiful websites with a strong backbone which gives an experience working with .NET platform used in various kinds of business.

Sitecore CMS and Sitefinity CMS are two content management systems based upon ASP.NET framework. We have chosen to focus on these systems as they are flexible, functional and easy in using. They are proved to be compatible on multiple devices, albeit using slightly different mechanisms, and customizable for the needs of differing countries. Also they are able to deliver vast amounts of information as part of logical information architecture.

Both of these CMSs have similar features and can meet various business needs with different requirements. Websites get more customized, gain more potential and get more interactive with these CMSs.

Hope the information in this article will assist you with the choice of either Sitecore or Sitefinity as more appropriate option for you.

Sitecore

Sitecore is a flexibile, scalabile and secure CMS, used by many leading global organizations such as Experian, Toshiba, Canon and Nestlé. The CMS incorporates a powerful desktop interface that is controlled by a fully-customizable role-based system. This desktop is very similar in look to a Windows desktop, which makes it easy for users new to Sitecore to pick up and learn the system. There are also multiple applications, like in Windows, aimed at specific tasks such as editing content, managing users, monitoring campaigns, setting up workflows, etc.

Sitecore enables web content editors and marketers to have full control over all aspects of their website from social integration and blog posts to advanced personalization, e-commerce and more.

Points in favor:

• The possibility to customize content based on user activity, such as completing a form;
• The opportunity to add an engagement metric, allowing developers to give visitors a value based on how much they’ve engaged with your solution;
• Sitecore CMS makes it easy to create world-class websites with its open architecture and rich development environment and tools;
• The function to send triggered emails (automated marketing messages based on a prospect’s behaviors) direct from the platform;
• On top of the CMS foundation, organizations can optimize the experience of their customers through multivariate testing, personalization and engagement automation;
• The CMS capabilities offer complete customization while maintaining data integrity so that organizations can manage large amounts of content efficiently not just on the web presence but across email, social, mobile and print;
• The ability to analyze the journey in either a campaign or a journey view, giving full visibility of the value to relevant sources;
• Sitecore CMS helps you to reach your customers in their preferred format with functionality to deliver content on multiple devices, including mobile.

Points against:

• If you do not have developers with .NET experience or operate on a small scale, Sitecore may not be the most appropriate option for your needs;
• The email marketing capabilities are still maturing along with volume capacity. The basics are solid, but the more advanced features still have some caveats in their function;
• When a platform offers an immense amount of features the usability becomes more challenging. For those organizations that can truly take advantage of the enterprise-level capabilities, proper training and onboarding (organizational change management) is a must-have in order to see the vision fulfilled;
• Sitecore CMS has a licensing cost. Pricing is based on the number of Sitecore Server installations, as well as the number of simultaneous users logged in (such as developers, designers, content editors, etc.).

Sitefinity

Sitefinity CMS is used for the construction and management of commercial websites, community portals, intranets, etc. Different successful organizations such as NASA, Chevron, Expedia, PepsiCo, Panasonic, Roche and more, rely on this CMS to optimize customer experiences across multiple digital channels. Sitefinity is engineered with flexibility and extensibility in mind to give developers the freedom they need to integrate legacy applications or use custom 3rd party controls and modules.

This CMS doesn’t require any special skills. You don’t even need to know any web development languages to use this system. But if you want to customize the system like our experts, then some of the languages you’d need to know.

Points in favor:

• Content Authors and Marketers need the ability to change and edit content on the fly. With Inline Editing feature you can create and edit content right on the page;
• Sitefinity’s page editor makes it easy to create rich, dynamic content by interacting with user-friendly interfaces. Content is created by simply dragging & dropping widgets onto a page;
• This CMS makes websites fully accessible on other platforms such as tablets and smartphones, which is really useful nowadays;
• Sitefinity provides a rich toolset for automatically connecting visitors with personalized content showing the right content to the right person by defining your audience, transforming the content, and testing the result;
• The multisite management makes it easy for organizations to manage a collection of websites and microsites through a centralized interface. Content authors can easily contribute to multiple websites, or utilize content from other websites. Users, roles, content, permissions, templates, images, and others can be effortlessly shared or synchronized between sites;
• Extensive Out-of-the-Box Features: there is an extensive toolset for addressing the challenges associated with managing a modern website. Solutions for mobile, email campaigns, social media, ecommerce, blogs, forums, search, and much more are instantly accessible. This allows organizations to focus on what to build instead of how to build;
• Sitefinity also provides inbuilt Search Engine Optimization (SEO) while enabling you to customize basic meta-data such as the title and page descriptions.

Points against:

• While the documentation is available, sometimes it isn’t extensive enough for some of the advanced concepts because it is of a quite basic level;
• Sitefinity provides a high level of granularity to customize the system, but sometimes this is a bit overkilled. For example, e-mail notifications are disabled by default in the installation system. If you want to see e-mail notifications after a form was submitted, you have to update your system settings, notification profile, and also enable notifications for forms;
• This CMS works on a “feather” template that is supposed to be more bootstrap friendly, so ultimately you have to write some special template code. A large scale HTML mode could help with some updates;
• There is licensing fees. Sitefinity tailors their licensing toward different user bases. There’s a free edition, a small business edition for companies who don’t need to use a lot of the advanced features/modules, standard, and enterprise.

Conclusion

As we can see, there are various attributes of Sitefinity & Sitecore CMSs and the choice definitely depends on your preferences.

If you are not up to build very structured site we would like to recommend Sitefinity because you don’t need any specific skills to work with this CMS. The licensing price seems good compared to others .NET CMS platforms and the out of the box features assist to get you up and running a site. The templating model is good and the extensible models aren’t overly complicated to work with.

On the other hand if you have a relatively big website or host many websites Sitecore is better in this case because this CMS is the most effective when it’s using as part of a full digital strategy, targeting content at your audience and using the personalization features to create real engaging websites. However in case your budget is limited and you have only a few sites to manage, this product is not the best option for you.

So wish you good luck with your own choice! I really hope this article was useful for you.

Also it will be nice to know your opinion. Which CMS do you use for your business? Which CMS do you think is more appropriate for your projects and why?

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

Evgeniya

Evgeniya Chajkovskaya
evgeniya.chajkovskaya@altabel.com
Skype ID: evgeniya_chajkovskaya
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

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Today the first events within GamesCom 2015 are kicking off. The main European game show will perform almost finished image of the game industry of 2015.

What should we expect from the nearest days? Let us have a look.

Gamescom 2015 obviously passes up in comparison with E3 in terms of number of the renowned companies, but Gamescom has hosted plenty of big announcements and reveals in its time – and 2015 will give us plenty to talk about.

Microsoft

Microsoft is going to make a huge impress during its conference that will take place on Tuesday, August 4, 7am PT / 10am ET / 3pm UK time.

One of the headliners will be Halo 5 for Xbox One, with an ESL invitational tournament happening on the Friday to get the pros into the game. However, Quantum Break, Scalebound and Crackdown will all be getting some exclusive coverage – and we might even see some more Fallout 4 footage during the conference. However, Sea of Thieves and Recore will be missing the show.
Microsoft is also preparing some surprising announcements. Whatever could they be?

Sony

Sony is skipping Gamescom this year; they plan to arrange their own presentation on October 27 during Paris Games Week.

It could be a risky strategy, but if it has nothing new to show moving on from its big E3 presence then showing up with nothing could have done more damage than good.

Bethesda

After its phenomenal E3 showcase, Bethesda will be hitting Gamescom to show us more of Fallout 4. Unfortunately, it will not be offering up a playable trailer, but Bethesda will be showing off more gameplay at a presentation. Do not expect footage of any of the other Bethesda titles – Gamescom will be dedicated to the nuclear wasteland.

Electronic Arts

EA will be hosting a press conference at this year’s Gamescom, and it will be taking place on August 5 at 1am PT / 4am ET / 9am UK time.

Being showcased at the EA event will be FIFA 16, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Need for Speed, Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Unravel and more.

DICE though has also been possibly teasing a reveal of another ‘hero’ character for Star Wars Battlefront via the EA Star Wars Facebook page.

Or it could turn out to be a one-hour gameplay demo of Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2.

Konami

The relationship between Konami and Hideo Kojima may have ended, but before the ties are severed, they have an unfinished business: Metal Gear Business.

Konami has confirmed that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be playable at Gamescom 2015.

2K

2K Games will be showing off the ‘worldwide reveal’ of the third instalment in its open-world, Mario Puzo homage, Mafia III. It teaed the announcement via Twitter with the reveal – read teaser trailer – showing up on August 5 5am PT / 8am ET / 1pm UK time.

Blizzard

Also holding its own invite-only press conference will be Blizzard. It is being a little secretive about what exactly will be shown, but we do now know that we will get our first glimpse of the new World of Warcraft expansion.

Now that Warlords of Draenor has reached content complete status, it is time for Blizzard to tell us what is next. VG247 is reporting a new trademark from Blizzard for Council of Glades, which could end up being the name of the new WoW update.

There will surely be more info coming about the already known Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void expansion. Might we also see Hearthstone moving from PC to console too?

The press conference is taking place on August 5 3am PT / 6am ET / 11am UK time so we will know more as it happens.

For the public though the new WoW expansion will be shown on the evening of August 6, after a live concert by Songhammer, playing Blizzard inspired ROCK.

Tatyana Ogneva

Tatyana Ogneva
tatyana.ogneva@altabel.com
Skype ID: ognewatatyana
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

 

The long awaited Windows 10 OS has been just released. The launch of the new OS, Microsoft`s revenge on unsuccessful Windows 8, will become one of the most important launches in Microsoft’s history.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to keep some of the touch and tablet features it created for Windows 8, combine them with the familiar Start menu and desktop, and run it all on top of an improved operating system. To decide whether to switch to Windows 10 or not, let`s have a closer look at new cool features offered by Windows 10:

1. New and Improved Start Menu

Microsoft brings back the Start Menu. Absence of which, Windows 8 has been blamed for. Now, when you click on the Start button at the bottom left of the screen, you get two panels side by side, with the left column showing pinned, recently and most-used apps.

Now it’s a more familiar place where you can view regularly used apps, have the ability to use universal search (including web search) and even have the ability to shut down or restart a Windows 10 laptop or tablet.

2. Cortana for desktop

Microsoft is bringing its mobile digital assistant, Cortana, to the desktop. It will be the central location for searching your local machine and the Web, either by voice or typing in your query.

“Hey Cortana” – you say and the assistant opens.

Another interesting feature of Cortana is its Notebook that you can customize to fit your interests, which helps Cortana get “smarter” over time. You can add interests from Bing news, sports, weather, and more.

3. New web browser: Microsoft Edge

Forget about Internet Explorer, that annoyed most of users. Microsoft Edge is leaner, meaner, and faster. However their icons look exactly the same.

Edge is the new default web browser for Windows 10. It features a host of built-in features such as a screen grab tool with touchscreen doodling abilities, a note pad and reading mode.

4. Continuum

With the rise of hybrid laptop-tablet devices, Microsoft wants to make it easier to switch between either mode. It`s one of the greatest new features in Windows 10, now the system will detect if you’ve plugged in a keyboard or mouse and switch modes for more convenient interaction. If you remove the keyboard/mouse, a notification will pop up from the task bar at the bottom, asking if you want to activate Tablet mode.

5. Improved Multitasking

A new Multiple Desktops feature lets you run another set of windows as if on another screen, but without the physical monitor. This is similar to Apple’s Spaces feature on OS X, and helps you manage your multitude of open windows and apps. Instead of having multiple windows open on top of each other on one desktop, you can set up a whole other virtual desktop for those programs to reside in. Set up one specifically for home and leave your apps such as Netflix and Amazon open, and create another desktop for work on which you keep Word, Excel and Internet Explorer open.

6. Action Center

One of the more annoying features in Windows 8 is the Charms bar. It’s hidden and pops up annoyingly when your mouse pointer is at the edge of your screen. That annoyance is gone, replaced by a notification center that Microsoft calls “Action Center”, which gives you notifications and quick access to common actions like Wi-Fi or Airplane Mode. Plus, on the desktop, you need to click a button on the taskbar to bring it up, which means it won’t be popping up arbitrarily as you’re getting things done.

7. Universal apps and Unified Windows Store

Previously called “modern” or “metro-style apps”, now will be called “Universal apps” as they’ll look and function virtually the same on different Windows 10 devices.

With a new Windows Store in Windows 10, users can buy apps once that work across their computers, smartphones, and tablets.

8. Control Panel – Settings app

Instead of having two apps to control your device settings in Control Panel and PC Settings, Microsoft is making things less confusing by bringing them together in one. You’ll be able to manage your device from one place.

9. Touch support for office apps

A new version of Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook will provide a touch-first interface across phones, tablets and PCs. The apps will look and perform the same way on a PC as they do on a mobile device for a more coherent experience.

10. Windows 10 is free

One of the biggest new developments in the Windows 10 story is that it will be completely free to upgrade. It will be available at no charge for the first year for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users. It will also be free if you’re still running Windows 7.

The article covers only some of the new things you’ll see in Windows 10, and I`m sure, you will reveal more great features offered by Windows 10. But we can say for sure that Windows 10 is a big improvement over Windows 8 and worth trying it. And will you upgrade for Windows 10?

 

Anna Kozik

Anna Kozik
Anna.Kozik@altabel.com 
Skype ID: kozik_anna
Business Development Manager (LI page)
Altabel Group – Professional Software Development

The use of health apps has skyrocketed in 2014. Flurry, a mobile analytics company, has followed over 6,800 health and fitness-related apps, and sees a growth of 62% based on measurements of the number of times the app is opened and used. Overall growth rate apps otherwise is 33%.

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By 2017 the app market is predicted to reach 26 billion users. Among its key drivers is the world’s aging population with its increasing need for medical care. In the United States alone, Tighe notes, almost 20 percent of Americans will be older than 65 by 2030, making them more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and other age-associated conditions. This changing landscape is forcing to create new ways to monitor people health and provide assistance with making health wise choices. And here mobile medical apps have already proved efficient and thus are gaining more and more popularity.

This boom has been also supported by most global IT corporations such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook. So here are some recent actions in that area showing that these companies treat this market segment really seriously:

  • Google recently launched Google Fit and directed towards more consumers within training and nutrition.
  • Apple has partnered with the company Epic. Since Epic handles over 51% of the medical records in the US, it gives Apple a very solid position in healthcare sector. Apple has, in iOS8, also included a personal health platform, HealthKit, which integrates other applications and gathers information for the user will appear in Apple Health app.
  • Microsoft invests in a separate solution and will with Microsoft Health Vault offer a platform where people can gather, store, share and use health data online.
  • Facebook has integrated MapMyFitness so friends can cheer on each other, share results and compete against each other. This has also contributed to the large increase in the use of health and Fitness app, where distribution is large via the social networking channel.

There is even an opinion that the increased use of health and fitness apps will destroy the market for wearables. It’s hard for them to compete with mobile apps, as the number of smartphone users is really big. So when the software is already integrated into smartphones they automatically become efficient devices for collecting health data. To put it short, the benefits of using mobile apps to wearable medical-devices  include 1/ cost savings because there is no need to develop a completely new device, 2/ enhancing existing platforms by adding more sophisticated sensing and data capabilities, 3/ using an interface that consumers know well and is already part of their everyday life.

Healthcare IT outsourcing

Health apps are built up not only by global IT companies, but also by healthcare providers to be used by doctors, specialists and by patients, of course. And here healthcare organizations increasingly take over the idea that IT outsourcing can help them bring their apps faster to the market while they could focus on their core activities.

This tendency has also been stimulated by changing government regulations concerning hospitals and clinics in lots of countries. And while some organizations are broadly outsourcing a mobile applications development, others are handing out the responsibility of IT management and overseeing their entire IT infrastructure.

The global healthcare IT outsourcing market is growing continuously. According to an article by Nearshore Americas, a recent study made by the Everest group states that the global healthcare IT outsourcing market is increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 12%. This gives us an insight on how much demand healthcare institutions now place on IT outsourcing services. According to TechNavio IT outsourcing in the global healthcare and life sciences sector is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6% through 2019.

Among the trends to watch besides going mobile, there is hosting on the cloud by health-related organizations to make their operations safer, using analytics-as-a-service technologies due to growing interest in Big Data, etc. Therefore 70% of healthcare organizations worldwide are expected to invest in consumer-facing mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care.

So the world has been ready for a while to embrace healthcare apps and demand for them is not going to slow down any time soon. Among the top medical apps they call CDC Vaccine Schedules, Family Practice Notebook, ASCVD Risk Estimator, etc.

What health-related apps have you tried and which ones do you use daily? Thank you for sharing!

Aliona Kavalevich

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

 

It is expected that within the next 5-7 years there will be billions of devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). However, on the way to this bright future, there are certain practical barriers.

The traditional model of the Internet of Things requires a centralized system for data processing, which handles all the data from connected devices. Nevertheless, this approach is seriously flawed in terms of cost of lifecycle and business model in general. For example, a company that produces “smart TVs” should support a centralized processing infrastructure and data management of the device for more than 20 years. While it earns revenues only once, when selling this device. This imposes restrictions on the Internet of Things. So far it is available only in the premium devices or those that are rarely used.

Nowadays, most of the IT companies are competing in invention IoT platforms and systems.

IBM: Adept

IBM’s solution is to use the web’s most innovative p2p technologies to create distributed cloud environment which means that all the devices will be integrated together. Thus, every device will be self-sufficient for managing and will use distributed public infrastructure to communicate with other devices. In this way, producing company won’t have recurring costs in maintenance. Such a system will be stable for the lifetime of the devices, and it will be equal to its clouds. The network will be fully autonomous, while the device remains in it, without requiring the cost from producer. However, centralized control becomes almost impossible with all the potential billions of devices on the network.

Their system Adept will rely on three different technologies to resolve a number of issues related to IoT development and commercialization: Block chain, famous from the crypto currency bitcoin, will allow IoT devices to communicate and interact with one another, BitTorrent (provides a stable and capable data distribution system ) and Telehash (private messaging protocol with end-to-end encryption).

Apple: Homekit

Apple is not idle in the IoT field. They introduced a new ‘smart home’ platform – Homekit this summer (2014).

Homekit is a framework and network protocol for controlling devices in the home. It promises a seamless user interface for organizing and controlling connected devices, all part of iOS 8. As part of this announcement there is also a new microcontroller SoC (system on a chip), containing a low-power WiFi, ZigBee and Bluetooth. It combines what had been separate components into a fully integrated unit. As with many other Apple products you will need a certificate, in this case Apple’s MFi certification (Made for iPod, Made for iPhone, Made for iPad).

Google: Nest

In January 2014, Google showed its commitment to the emerging Internet of Things by purchasing Nest for $3.2 billion. Nest’s main product is a learning thermostat connected to the internet that uses sensors, regional data, and learning algorithms to preemptively change the temperature of your house automatically. Thus, Google gains a direct entry point into the home to collect data, learn, and possibly advertise to end users in the future. Google’s purchase of Nest was considered an important indicator that the Internet of Things is poised to explode.

Microsoft: Windows 8.1 for IoT

Microsoft does not want to be left behind and has its own plan to bring Windows Developers to the Internet of Things with its new version of Windows 8.1 – operating system tailored for the Internet of Things. This version of Windows is designed to use in microcomputers, wearable electronics, and possibly, toys and household gadgets. At this point the preliminary version is only available to developers. Windows 8.1 distribution for the Internet of things weighs only 174 MB. For comparison, the size distribution of the full version of Windows 8.1 is around 3 GB. Slim enough to work on a single-core processor Intel Quark with a clock frequency of just 400 MHz. But the boot time is poor – 2 minutes instead of the traditional 3-30 seconds.

Intel: Galileo

The first platform that is compatible with Windows 8.1 for the Internet of Things is Intel’s Galileo. It is built around a processor, Intel Quark has 256 MB of RAM, a slot for cards format SD, two ports USB, PCI Express interface and a network adapter Ethernet 10/100 Mbit / s, and a pocket friendly price of just $ 50.

Samsung: Smartthings, Smart Home

Samsung, Intel and Dell announced in July 2014 that they are combining forces to create a new wireless standard for the Internet of Things, connecting sensors, appliances and gadgets to the Internet in the home, business and automobile. The Open Internet Consortium will include hardware component builders Broadcom and Amtel as well as embedded software provider Wind River.

Also it would be unfair not to mention the fact that Samsung has bought an internet of things (IoT) company called Smartthings (the startup that makes smart-home controllers) for about $200 million. Samsung is planning to use it to bolster its smart home plans. Smartthings will run as an independent entity within Samsung, and will continue to support its existing customer base. This system provides a smartphone app that users can employ to control features and functions around the house.

Smart Home platform will provide users with three main services: Device Control, Home View, and Smart Customer Service. Device Control will allow users to access customized settings for all of their devices on their smartphone or on their Smart TV. Home View allows users to take advantage of the cameras built into many of Samsung’s connected appliances to take a look at what’s going on at home. Smart Customer Service will notify users whenever it’s time to service an appliance, and also provide assistance in after-sales servicing.

Other companies such as Vodafone, Cisco, MediaTek, etc are also a part of this great revolution in IT environment, and most of them have very prospective projects.

1

IoT Top10 Companies

Nevertheless, one should accept that the Internet of Things requires some technical and educational level from the society, and while in some countries this seems to be difficult to put it into practice, the Scandinavian region, more specifically – Sweden, invests in such projects at the national level. The vision of its industry is to increase competitiveness and to use innovation effectively in such social spheres as healthcare, welfare and sport. Business life is focused on getting benefits by implementation of IoT technology as well.

The connected world is too big to belong to somebody exclusively. So will Apple, Windows, IBM, Oracle, Google and others be able to all work together in this IoT universe? Or will the grand idea of a seamlessly connected Internet of Things environment slip away?

Will be thankful to hear your opinion on this subject. Share your thoughts here in comments or send me a message.

11d78a3 Svetlana Pozdnyakova
svetlana.pozdnyakova@altabel.com 
Skype ID: Svetlana.pozdnyakova
Business Development 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

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


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