Don’t Write Off Microsoft – they Know How to Keep Developers Happy

Like many others, my team now feels liberated from platform specific ways of working, due in no small part to the flourishing of open source frameworks for just about anything you can think of, from user interface to middleware, security and beyond. We have just gone through a major explosion in it’s use of different platforms, in no small part due to mobile. We used to be exclusively Microsoft, but now we also use Java for Android, php on lamp for web and last, but not least, Objective C for iPhone development.

I remember the bad old days before the widespread use of the web, when a developer spent most of their time with their heads in their hand guessing the meaning of cryptic error messages and log entries. How much easier it is now than then to focus on the job in hand rather than the pure mechanics of getting it done. Despite all of this, it is still easier to use some platforms than others. Even though I constantly try out new things, have a secret geeky affection for things like regular expressions, and am an enthusiastic user of Linux, there is still something very definite to be said in favour of the much maligned Microsoft.

While some market analysts are busy writing Microsoft’s ultimate obituary, and comparing them unfavourably with Google or Apple, they often miss the unique capacity Microsoft has for looking after their developers: Visual Studio is unmatched as a development tool – everything fits together beautifully and works wonderfully. Unlike days gone by, Microsoft now have strong open source communities surrounding key technologies like MVC, which help move things in the right direction, whilst the MS teams keep it tidy. By comparison, Eclipse, for writing java, seems quite fragmented whilst XCode for Objective C feels quite awkward and basic.

I am in no way an ideologue or cheerleader for any given technology, they all have their pros and cons, they all have appropriate contexts for use. Nevertheless, if you want to make predictions about the future of mobile or other platforms, you would be wise to remember that application ecosystems require a development community – and that is one thing that Microsoft excels at supporting.

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About jonallenby
I'm the co-founder and Technical Director of a new media agency - Lime Media. I would describe myself as having a healthy scepticism about technology - new ways of doing things are always new, but they are not necessarily better. Best to cut through the hype and think about how technology will physically change people's lives, for better or worse. I am also struggling to finish a part-time PhD in language, metaphor and philosophy at Goldsmith's College, University of London. Apart from thinking and reading, I like playing with my children, cross-country running and White Crane Kung-Fu - though usually not all at once.

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