Appletel versus Microsoft Vista

At year end eWeek, Information Week and Infoworld will all be offering their prognostications for the major technology trends to watch out for in 2006. It will be easy to pick the number one technolgy trend – Appletel versus Vista. This will be ITs equivalent of the Thrilla in Manilla. There will finally be the great square off between Apple and Windows on the same hardware for the allegiance of the desktop masses. What an upcoming bash!

It may be the ISVs which determine the winner of this tussle.

Neither vendor has been treating its ISVs especially well. Apple has had forced marches from one hardware platform to another leaving ISVs with noses out of joint. Add to that the psychizoid swing of Apple in and out of the server markets, and in and out of direct software competition with its partners (think GarageBand and Final Cut Pro)- and Steve has done a job on his ISVs.

But if Steve has done a job; the tag team of Bill and Steve have used more than chairs in the ring to periodically clobber its ISVs … and frequently they are left as freshmeat for Carrion Crows. To the tune of Developers, Developers, Developers the dynamic duo have brick-batted ISVs in such markets as accounting and business applications, application development, word processing and office development, OS utilities, project management tools, mail systems, plus the big Kahuna (used by Ray Ozzie in his warning to too enthusiastic admirers of Google and Web 2) browsers and web servers. And Microsoft has in its current target sites BI vendors, security suppliers, and Content Management among other ISV marketplaces.

The move to Intel will probably cause less grief to Apples ISVs because the Apple community has been through this twice in the past 10 years and Apple has been able to abstract away some of the transition misery. In contrast, the move to Vista could prove to be more problematic for ISVs. Vista is the third take on .NET, and the very very very late delivery of SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005 indicates how rough that transition has been. Here is what is new and changed and must be take into account by Windows ISVs:
1)New Presentation Layer with WinPF/Avalon – this will require major rethinking as XAML and WinPF provide new opportunities but also major code conversion;
2)New Communication Layer with WinCF/Indigo – ditto to Avalon problems;
3)New Database Layer with WinFS/Yukon – same problems just delay in game penalty because it will appear after Vista and development staff will have to also figure out how it fits with new LINQ technology;
4)New device drivers – this could be the real fly in the soup.
And top this all off, Microsft ISVs will be getting a new developer toolset, Visual Studio 2005, that will help perform this magic but will also need to be updated at least once a quarter throughout 2006 for all the new stuff coming on stream.

Also, unless ISV coders have stayed on top of all the changes to Visual Studio 2005 they will be confronted with using C++/CLI – a new and very different (at least 64 pages worth of specs)language for developing – extending their apps. Now they can stick with C# and managed code – but all the brightminds and performance geek freaks at 1 Microsoft Way are not. So if you are an ISV and do not want to surrender a “it runs best in Microsofts Version” advantage to the good old boys of Redmond (hey they are dedicated to Developers, Developers, Developers so Steve will only hit you with that CLI chair, if you refuse to take an oath to become a Microsoft VAR).

Hmm .. this is a long winded way of saying Windows ISVs are likely to have more problems and conflicts bringing their software to Vista then the gals and guys running on Appletel. Result – if Steve Jobs does “The Price is Right” – he comes away in the first year of an ongoing battle with a staggering blow to Vista in the run for desktop users.

(c)JBSurveyer 2005