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Microsoft Surface is a Game Changer


I was excited to get my Microsoft Surface Tablet on Friday because I thought the device was really special.  What I didn’t expect was for it to change how I interacted with technology.  The Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 is not simply a tablet it’s a new type of personal computing experience.  The more I use my Surface, the more I realize how much of a game changer it is.

The Surface isn’t the first tablet I’ve owned.  My first tablet was the Motorola Xoom followed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab, both running the Android OS.  I also have an Apple iPad 2, that makes the Surface my 4th tablet.  I expected it to be similar to all the other tablets I own.  It isn’t.  In fact, the Surface is not even a tablet at all.  Well, the concept is a tablet, but the Surface…it’s a PC…and a tablet.

I’ve been using Windows 8 Pro for about 6 weeks, since the final build was released to Microsoft Partners.  I have been fairly impressed with its performance, and with the features on my touch screen laptop, but I just didn’t realize the power of Windows 8 until I experienced it on the Microsoft Surface Tablet PC.

For those of you who haven’t purchased a Microsoft Surface Tablet yet, let me walk you through my 2 day experience.  The first impression of the Surface comes through in the packaging.  If you appreciate the minimalist design of the Apple iPad, the packaging of the Surface will also appeal to you.  The surface comes in a beautiful black and white angled box.  As you open it, you realize the inside box is split into two pieces.  The bottom piece contains the Surface cover, which is also a full sized flat keyboard.  The keyboard cover that comes with the Surface has slightly raised edges and raised bumps on the F and J keys.  Many reviewers have commented about how ingenious it is to have a cover that’s also a keyboard, but the even more remarkable aspect of the keyboard is that it also has a mouse pad built in.  This allows you use the Surface as either a normal tablet, just like an iPad or Android tablet, or to use it just like you’d use your PC.  You’ll also notice that the keyboard has keys that are specific to Windows 8 and it also has all the normal function keys (F1 – F12), as well as page up, page down, end, home, and arrow keys.  Volume, screen brightness search, flip, and settings buttons are also provided, to make it easy to switch between apps and control the settings of your Surface Tablet PC using only the keyboard.

In addition to the standard, flat, touch keyboard that comes with the Surface, which, by the way, comes in several different colors, you can also choose the Surface Type Keyboard Cover.  The Type Keyboard is slightly thicker, by a couple of millimeters, barely noticeable, really, and instead of having flat keys, it has a full normal, push-button-style keyboard, just like what’s on most laptops.  So if you’re a touch typist and need to “feel” the keys, this is an amazing choice.  Jut like the flat keyboard, the touch keyboard also doubles as the Surface cover.  The back of both keyboard covers is a sort of soft suede or felt-like material.  I tried both keyboards and just fell in love with the Type Cover keyboard.  Both keyboards are strongly magnetized. The bottom of the Surface is grooved, so the keyboards just “snap” into place once you bring them close to each other.

Once unwrapped, the Surface is pretty striking with it’s sleek black surface and angled, beveled edges.  It has a really nice feel, as you hold it.  It’s feels slightly lighter than an iPad 2, but a bit thicker.  It has just the right amount of space around the edges making it very comfortable to hold in the same manner of holding a book.

  The main reason the Surface is thicker than an iPad and the Galaxy Tab, is that it has a full sized, normal USB Port on the right side of the device, along with a mini HD video port.  At first, I thought this was not an optimal design element, even though it felt good in my hands, and thought Microsoft maybe, should have gone with a thinner version and not included the port.  But that we before I started using the Surface.  After using it, I soon realized how smart the USB port really was.  If one stops thinking of the Surface as a tablet, and starts thinking of it as a new type of PC, then you ask yourself, what PC wouldn’t have a USB port on it to allow for transferring files to a thumb drive, etc.?  Also, as I got used to the thickness, I actually found it easer and more relaxing to hold than either the iPad or the Galaxy Tab.  The thinness of those tablets actually makes you strain your fingers to hold it, especially the iPad, because of it’s thinness and it’s extra weight.  The thickness of the Surface is similar to that of a thicker magazine, such as Harvard Business Review, or a small booklet, and is quite natural to hold, even with the keyboard cover folded back.

As soon as you boot up the Microsoft Surface, you immediately notice a difference.  The Surface calls itself a PC, not a tablet.  And you soon realize why.  The Surface doesn’t have a normal, scaled down, operating system on it, it has Windows 8.  Granted, it’s Windows 8 RT, which means you don’t have the ability to run all your normal Windows applications such as Photoshop, or your line of business (LOB) applications, but it does have all of the features and options of a full Windows 8 operating system, including the desktop, Windows File Explorer, and even the control panel.  A full featured, desktop version

of Microsoft Office 2013 is also included with Surface. The desktop includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Internet Explorer, and Windows Explorer.  And because it’s windows, it automatically sees all the printers and other computers on your network.  Within minutes of turning the Surface on for the first time, I was able to open up Excel and Word, and pull up documents from my laptop computer and begin working on them.  The Surface allowed me to seamlessly open and save document to and from my laptop computer.  The other interesting thing about Windows 8, that I think Microsoft really got right, is the synchronization between devices.  Since I’ve been using Windows 8 for about a month on my laptop computer, I already had a number of my settings configured and my desktop background set as well a several preferences.  I even had a number of Windows Store Apps installed on my laptop.  So after I got through the initial Surface setup, it immediately began synchronizing all my settings and preferences to what I had setup on my laptop.  Within about 2 minutes, my Surface tablet looked and felt like my laptop, and was ready to go, without me having to do anything.

We do a lot of data analytics for our clients, so I was curious what would happen if I opened up an Excel workbook with embedded connections to SQL Server Analysis Services, that contained Pivot Tables and Pivot Charts.  I didn’t actually expect this work, but I thought I’d give it a try anyway.  I was so shocked when I opened up the pivot table tab in the spreadsheet and started dragging and dropping and slicing and dicing the data around, right from my Surface Tablet.  All the data connection settings were in tact, and nothing had to be done for the spreadsheet to work.  I just opened it up and started working on it.  It was an amazing experience to be able to do something like on a tablet PC.  The built in OneNote application allowed me to take a screen shot of my Excel spreadsheet running a pivot table on the Surface.

After I got over the shock, I thought to myself, what else could I do with this thing?  So I looked for an app in the Microsoft Store for remote desktop.  I quickly found it and installed it to my Surface.  I ran the app and was able to connect to my desktop and remotely log in and work directly on my laptop through my Surface tablet.   I know you can do the same thing using Android and the iPad, but the experience on the Surface was just completely seamless.  By having the full keyboard, the mouse pad, and being able to seamlessly use the touch screen on the Surface, I soon forgot I was even using on a tablet at all.  Everything from the resolution of the Surface screen, to the keyboard, to the fully functional and integrated short-cut keys, was just perfect.

The last thing I tried was printing.  I opened up a Microsoft Word Document on the Surface, from a file I had on my laptop.  I hit the print button and a list of available printers popped up.  I selected an HP color laser printer and clicked print.  That was it.  There was no setup.  No print driver installation.  No configuration.  Just print.

For the first time since the iPad was introduced, I can finally see a personal replacement device for my desktop and laptop computer.  To say the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8 is a game changer, is so obvious, that it’s almost not worth saying.  The Surface PC, don’t call it a tablet, is nearly everything you need in a device, combined into one.  Microsoft really did this thing right.  It sends a clear message to all the hardware vendors and to Microsoft’s competitors, that the PC is not dead, it’s just arrived, and it’s called the Surface!

 
 

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A robust alterntive to the #StarSchema.


A robust alterntive to the #StarSchema. Visit the #SpiderSchema site for #BI, #DW, and #Analytics architecture. http://ht.ly/cmgZx

At InterNuntius, we’ve been using the Spider Schema for over 2 years now.  There are so many advantages to the architecture, it’s become the basis for a number of Business Analytics and Data Warehouse solutions including our inCollatio collection of solutions and our upcoming Stratalytics work.

If you’re looking to buy QlikView or Tableau or other front end solutions to attempt to get get-around the short comings of the Star Schema, and you want the benefits of both 3NF and Dimensional models in one soluton, this architecture is a “Silver Bullet” unlike anything we’ve used or built before.

You can get to the  site directly by  the link above or by simply going to the URL: http://Star-Schema.info

 

the Microsoft Store

the Microsoft Store

I finally got the chance to go visit the new Microsoft Store at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.BryantAtMicrosfotStore

I have to say that I was pretty impressed. The Microsoft Store is directly across from the Apple Store.  The comparison between the two stores is so obvious, that you feel the competition oozing out of the lit up logos. The first thing I noticed was how many more products the Microsoft Store had, compared to the few products in the Apple Store.  Another striking difference was the level of energy, color, lights, and activity in the Microsoft Store.  You can see in the photo to the right, that the walls are completely covered by multi-color monitors.  These monitors surround the entire store and showcase various Microsoft and PC vendor products.  There are also carved-out screen sections for X-Box, Kinect, and PC applications allowing people to play the games or use the applications interactively on the wall monitors.

MicrosoftStoreLogoBigThe Microsoft Store makes the Apple Store look boring, bland and lacking in energy by comparison.  In the back of the store, Microsoft has stadium-like seating and conducts ongoing training sessions on a huge screen.  When I was there, the training session was packed.  Microsoft also has table-top, touch-screen computers with drawing program and various games installed.  The tables are bar height, allowing users to walk up to them and interact with the screen.

I don’t know why Microsoft didn’t do this sooner.  It’s a great concept.  They’ve definitely beat Apple at their own game.  At the risk of sounding biased, Microsoft just has so much more to offer because their open platform.  The Microsoft Store makes you proud to be a PC!

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2010 in Featured, TechKnowledgy Articles

 

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No App for That! Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

No App for That!  Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

“It’s Innovation, not Open Source. . .”

I just finished reading Gregg Keizer’s Computer World article, “Adobe escalates feud with Apple over Flash.” In his article, Keizer outlines some new developments in the ongoing Next Tech War. Specifically, Keizer links to a post on Adobe’s website titled, “Freedom of Choice,” which offers a letter from Adobe’s Co-founders Chuck Geschke and John Warnock. In that letter, Geschke and Warnock attempt to frame the feud with Apple as Open Systems vs. Closed Systems.  They brand Apple’s position as closed market, stating:

“We believe that Apple, by taking the opposite approach, has taken a step that could undermine this next chapter of the web — the chapter in which mobile devices outnumber computers, any individual can be a publisher, and content is accessed anywhere and at any time.”

Keizer’s article goes on to quote Michael Gartenberg, a blogger, tech journalist, sometimes evangelist, and an analyst with the Altimeter Group, as some kind of authoritative rebuttal, a voice of the “mass market” if you will, to Adobe’s position.

“All the talk of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ doesn’t matter,” Gartenberg’s quote reads.  He then adds, ‘That might be of interest in the coffeehouses of Silicon Valley, but we’ve moved beyond the point where the tech-savvy insiders make market decisions. The mass market makes the decisions.’”

Really?  Well, recall, Mr. Gartenberg, that the discussion is not about tech-savvy consumers, but is, instead, about a developer community estimated to number in the range of 3 million (according to Adobe’s website).  So, no tech-savvy consumers here, but Gartenberg is right about one thing, the Jobs/Adobe battle is not about Open Vs. Closed systems;  nor is this latest skirmish a reason to elevate the mass market as the only measure of marketplace value, which is what Gartenberg appears to be saying.  Look, I hold the mass market in the greatest respect, but if mass market product demand is the only measure of value inherent in a technology company’s product offerings, any company with a product that fails to gain mass market success might as well close its doors.  After all, the mass market doesn’t want it.  Moreover, employing Gartenberg’s reasoning means that a nice little sliver of  mass market demand gives a company, any company (think Facebook), a mass market-driven reason to push its weight around.  Well, let’s hope not.  “The mass market makes the decisions,” sounds lovely in theory, but in this, and many other instances, it is so far out of context as a rebuttal for Apple’s flame war against Adobe developers, that it forces us to the question:

Is Steve Jobs Failing Apple?

The question is provocative.  It is also fair.  In waging this pointless war against Adobe, Apple effectively dismisses the needs and concerns of Flash developers, relegating them to nothing more than “tech-savvy” with a disdainful sniff.  It doesn’t seem to matter to Jobs that his edicts affect a large number of developers.  It doesn’t seem to matter that  many corporations and smaller companies use Flash as a development tool, and that they have been requesting some sort of compromise for years.

What Gartenberg and Jobs refuse to acknowledge is that, like any other market, the tech market possesses an eco-system (see right).  This eco-system has been transformed over the past five years, offering a broader range of value, value derived from diversity of the producers.  Tool sets can be open or closed.  Platforms can be managed or completely open, but in this new system, we will call it the interactive marketplace, developers are so much more than tech-savvy consumers, they are value producers.  And no matter what their stripe (Flash, Silverlight, etc.) developers provide value-add to operating platforms, helping to create products that are desirable to the “mass market.”    This structure, inherent in  and  highly valued by what is essentially a new tech industry, is unlikely to change in the near future.

Jobs may be brilliant, and his product may be cool, but neither he, nor his company is capable of producing the requisite number of applications to make his development platform the best source for mobile entertainment, news, and whatever else the “mass market” wants from its mobile devices.  He could hire every available programmer from here to Timbuktu and still not meet all the “mass market” demand for apps.

Surely Jobs understands that Apps Developers drive the mass market to the iPhone/iPad.  Without their support, and the support of corporations that use Adobe products, Steve Jobs and his products run the risk of being “also ran cool,” kind of like the Apple Newton.  Of course, all of this is just a rehash of what has been said before.  Plus, it’s not really the point of what Steve Jobs appears to be doing with his tormenting of Adobe.

A Little Bit of Perspective

In my original post on this new Tech War, I said that this was a war over “Applications Development Platforms.”  So, despite  Geschke and Warnock’s attempt to frame Apple’s tactics as the actions of an evil empire, and despite Gartenberg’s focus on mass market as some type of all encompassing measure of value, none of these factors are really at play.  What is at play is Jobs’ attempt to force-shift the entire applications market onto the Apple Development Platform.  This seems to be nothing more than a transparent attempt to dominate in the Applications Development market.

Consider the illustration on the left.  It depicts a quadrant of Product Erosion. The top-right quadrant shows that the most significant products and those with the highest degree of differentiation are considered “Innovative Solutions.” Products with the least amount of differentiation and low degrees of significance are considered “Standard” or  “Commodity.”

Over time, innovative solutions erode in marketplace value as competitors bring similar products to market.  What was an innovation becomes a standard.  To gain or maintain market share, incremental differentiation must occur.

The marketplace is and has always been an environment of:

  1. Innovators
  2. Integrators
  3. Specialists
  4. Commodity or Long-Tail providers

The struggle of any innovator is to keep their products and services in the innovative solution quadrant. Organizations and leaders can do this with “wow” products, or with personality-driven press as they differentiate their products and services.  Apple has the wow, but  Steve Jobs seems to be employing personality with this irrelevant war and possibly even the lost iPhones.  In addition, with the demand that developers only use Apple’s Application Development Platform, he seems a bit behind the times, old school bravado trying to operate in a new and more collaborative value system.

So, back to the question, is Steve Jobs failing Apple by employing such a strategy?

Jobs Isn’t Failing, Only Flailing

The answer is, no.  He’s not failing, but in acting like Lord and Commander of the entire development value system, he is flailing.  A continued demand that developers choose the Apple Platform to develop products for access to his “mass market,” could result in Apple ending up with delayed product releases as developers move to other platforms where they are free to choose their tools.  Developers will then port their programs over to Apple’s Web OS using Objective C code generators.

No Guru is an Island

Jobs has made these mistakes before.  He seems to forget that Apple is, and always has been, an innovation company.  He understands innovation.  He is willing to gamble everything to keep Apple as an innovator in the marketplace.   With the iPhone, iPad, and other Apple products, the mobile marketplace has been reset.  It’s ready to grow again; but Steve Jobs, instead of basking in the glow of the accolades he so richly deserves, is picking fights about a whole lot of nothing.   Worse, he’s acting as if the developers who develop for Apple’s mobile applications are employees and not separate entities working within the market standardization and innovation quadrant, just like Apple.  He’s acting as though Apple is providing a benefits package and career advancement opportunities.  He is acting old tech bully in a collaborative tech value system.  In the end, for 2 million Flash developers, and countless other companies and corporations, there’s not enough benefit in the Apple platform to put up with the abuse and the outright disregard for the market’s needs.  After all, there’s a whole big world out there.  Jobs might be the one who built the thing, but once everyone else catches on, it’s only a matter of time before the innovation becomes standard and the fight for market domination begins in earnest.  Technology is not like the Project Runway Slogan: One day you’re in and the next day you’re out!  It is a Learning System, where failures can lead to great successes and incremental changes can lead to market domination.

Conclusion

Gartenberg is right.  It’s not about Open Vs. Closed Systems; but it’s not about mass market either.  And, while Jobs is trying to make it about the Application Development Platform, such a focus may prove to be a dead end.  Ultimately, this battle is about innovation, which is what Jobs should be focused on maintaining because innovation is his place in the Tech Eco-system.  If Jobs wants mass market domination, he will have to let go of innovation and focus on more mundane things, like product support.   Warring with other eco-system dwellers for market domination will only net the inevitability that someone other than Apple will dominate the mobile marketplace.  Steve Jobs just doesn’t have the patience for the incremental nature of market domination. In a year or two, when everything has run its course, Steve will be onto the neXT big thing.  If given the opportunity, he will, without a doubt, blow our minds again.  The iPhone and iPad will be classic, or discontinued completely like so many of Apple’s unsupported products (I still have one of those awesome Mac Cubes, which, while totally cool, was only supported for about six months by Apple).  Those of us who are tech-savvy know Steve J obs.  We’ve watched him wage these battles time and time again.  We have watched his disinterest in domination activities, especially after that next thing comes along.  We, the tech-savvy consumers understand.  Unless Steve Jobs changes dramatically, he’s going to get that innovation itch.  When that happens, his desire for total market domination will be tossed aside.  Like a fresh wind blowing away the stale air of technical mundanity, Steve Jobs will rise up, and he will innovate.

So don’t buy into the hype.  Instead, focus on Jobs’ next act in disruptive technology.  And, if you must have a war, watch what happens as the rest of the market battles it out for their place in the quadrant.

As always, I look forward to hearing what you tech-savvys (and even mass market folks) have to say.

 

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Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Launch Event – It’s all about the Cartoon Ads!

Microsoft Dynamics GP 2010 Launch Event – It’s all about the Cartoon Ads!

Photo of Errol Schoenfish Presenting the GP 2010 Launch

I just got back from attending a great Dynamics GP 2010 Launch Event hosted by OTT‘s CEO, Eric Sheehan, and by Microsoft’s Errol Schoenfish.  After not having seen GP for several years, since it changed its name from Great Plains to Dynamics GP, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I have to say that I was fairly impressed with the presentation and with how GP has changed since the last time I did any work with it.

My Take-away

GP has a lot of new integration features and they seem to have turned the corner in terms of developing their product and features from a people-centered perspective.  One of the most interesting things I got from the presentation is that I now understand all of those cartoonish drawings of people illustrated in the new Microsoft banner ads you see all over the internet.  It turns out that Microsoft has been diligently building role-based views into all of their products.  All of those cartoon faces have names and represent specific job functions or roles in an organization.  The Dynamics GP team has posters of these named people, all over the building.  They have identified 61 different personas representing various roles within an organization.  During the software development cycle, the team will constantly refer to these cartoon drawings as real people, representing a real role.  So they’ll talk about Tim the IT Manager, or Phyllis the Accounting Manager.  And they’ll discuss what their day looks like, and what types of information they’re interested in seeing, and how they want to consume that information.  Then they build features for Tim or Phyllis.  Maybe I’m geeky, but I think that’s a really cool way to develop software.  It’s like modeling the roles and then incorporating it into everything you put into the software.

I had to know where this originated so I did a bit of searching and found a white paper from Microsoft dated May 16th, 2006, titled: “Roles-based Business Productivity ‘Software Designed For Your People’ “. This is a 60 page word document describing, in detail, the roles, functions, pain points, and requirements of all 61 personas.  They even have an org chart for everyone.  Last year, it seems their marketing group decided to turn these personas into cartoon draw people.  This is what’s behind the Microsoft ads we see all over the web these days.

Why I really went to the Launch:

I actually had a couple of reasons to attend the Dynamics GP launch:

  1. First, I wanted learn what happened to FRx and how that was being introduced in GP 2010
  2. Second, I wanted to see how GP could add to a Business Intelligence environment

FRx update: For those of you interested in what happened to FRx, here’s the deal.  I spoke with Errol Schoenfish after he spoke at todays event.  Errol said that FRx has been integrated into Dynamics GP as a tool called Management Reporter.  The good news is that there is a complete migration path for those users who currently have FRx, to convert to Management Reporter.  If you use the FRx Forecasting tool, you’ll have to convert over to the Dynamics GP Forecaster.  The FRx Forecasting tool is not the same as the FRx Forecasting tool and is not a direct migration.

The SharePoint 2010 team was originally going to incorporate the forecasting and the financial report manager into PerformancePoint Services within the SharePoint 2010 product.  However, around December 2009, they changed their minds and elected not to include any of the planning and forecasting features into SharePoint PerformancePoint Services.  All of the financial consolidation tools and the complex financial reporting tools, which used to be FRx, now exist exclusively in Microsoft Dynamics GP.  Errol told me that: “Management Reporter will eventually become a full fledged planning, forecasting, and budgeting tool.”

I asked Errol if there was any way to purchase the Management Reporter in a de-bundled fashion, outside of purchasing Dynamics GP.  He said there was not.  Dynamics GP will continue to develop additional reporting functionality, but those features and tools are not currently planed to be utilized outside of Dynamics GP.  While this is good news for Dynamics GP customers, this is unwelcome news for current FRx users, who now will have to find a new tool if they wish to be supported.

In terms of how GP fits within a larger BI environment, I have to say I was fairly impressed with what I saw today.  Dynamics GP is one of the first Microsoft products to fully integrate with Dynamics CRM.  Many have said that this should have happened sooner, but what I saw in the demo today was a very nicely coupled and seamless interface.  They have also integrated GP very tightly with Office 2007 and Office 2010 as well as with SharePoint 2010.  My overall impression is that Dynamics GP will be a great tool to leverage new or existing BI strategies.

Please share your thoughts.  I welcome your comments.

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The #TechWar Continues $AAPL $MSFT $ADBE #Flash #HTML5 #Silverlight

The #TechWar Continues $AAPL $MSFT $ADBE #Flash #HTML5 #Silverlight

Microsoft joins the Tech War and shows Apple how to do this “social media thing” the right way.

In a ZDnet article just published today, titled Microsoft fires back at critics of its HTML5 strategy, Ed Bott describes the very different approaches Microsoft and Apple are taking to announce their support for the HTML5 standard.  It turns out that when Steve Jobs announced Flash was dead and HTLM5 was the new standard for Apple, that Microsoft’s GM of Internet Explorer, Dean Hachamovitch, announced much the same thing, later that same day.

What’s the difference?

In these two announcements for HTML5, Microsoft allowed users to comment on the announcement, while Apple simply made the statement – end of discussion.

Then according to Bott’s article, an interesting thing happened: Within 72 hours of Dean’s post, he received about 200 comments.  Dean reviewed the concerns and comments and an attempted to address many of them in a follow-up post.

Microsoft, it seems is trying to be responsive to its huge and demanding customer base.  Bravo Microsoft.  the article goes on to explain that Microsoft would be insane to not support Flash.  They “would never do that to our customers”.

If you’ve been following this new Tech War, take a look at Ed’s article.  It’s a good read. (note that it’s a 3 page article – you have to click to read all three pages)

Let me know your thoughts.

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Future Famous – Teen Read & Book Fair Tonight!

Future Famous – Teen Read & Book Fair Tonight!

Future Famous Flyer

As Written By Teen Writes Group

Please join us tonight (April 30, 2010) at the As Written By “Future Famous” Teen Read & Book Fair.

The event is taking place at Barnes & Noble Book Store in Apple Valley, MN.

Tonight’s activities are from 6:00 – 9:00 pm, and include:
Flowetry Poetry
Heart Art
Book Give-aways
Readings by Authors: Swati Avasthi, Melodee Strong, & Jenna Kaliszewski (sponsored by InterNuntius Consulting)
Prizes: by Author / Publisher Mechelle Avey
Free Food: by Barnes & Noble

All proceeds from tonights purchases go to Apple Valley High School (make sure you have a voucher with the bar code when you purchase – available at the event)

For more information about As Written By please visit our website at http://AsWrittenBy.com

For more information about As Written By’s  Director and Artist in Resident, Mechelle Avey, the following are ways to connect with her:

You should read her Blog: http://MechelleAvey.wordpress.com

You can visit her Website: http://MechelleAvey.com

You should Friend her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/MechelleAvey

You should follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MechelleAvey

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Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Featured, Uncategorized

 

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The Next Tech War: Mobile Applications Development Platforms

The Next Tech War: Mobile Applications Development Platforms

This Means War! Today, Adobe launches the highly anticipated Creative Suite 5 (CS5). The most anticipated feature of CS5 is the ability to develop applications using Flash technologies and compile the application so it will run in Apple’s iPhone. The great thing about this, from Adobe’s perspective, is that it allows hundreds of thousands of Flash developers the ability to develop iPhone, iPod, and iPad games, as well as other applications, using Adobe Flash (instead of Apple’s Objective-C) to develop those applications.

The CS5 launch comes just one week after Apple released the new iPad to rave reviews. Apple already dominates the Mobile Device Applications market with their iPhone and iPod Touch apps. Later this month, Microsoft will be launching their new .net 4, SharePoint 2010, Silverlight 4.0, and VisualStudio 2010, along with Office 2010. They will also be launching the new Windows Phone 7 platform later this year.

Here’s where it gets interesting, after working together for 2 years to develop the CS5 compiler, Apple and Adobe seem to have come to a parting of ways last Thursday, with agents of both companies tossing verbal artillery rounds at one another.  From Apple’s perspective, Adobe wants Flash, rather than Apple’s Objective C, to be the de facto standard on the Apple platform. Apple’s response to Adobe’s bare-handed grab at domination: a change to Apple’s Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit.  On Thursday, hyped by the success of the iPad release, Apple banned the use of a third-party compiler, i.e. CS5.  The 2 years of collaboration was at an end.

In a PaidContent.Org article, Steve Jobs was characterized as saying the reason for Apple’s decision to ban CS5 iPhone development was that “Apple doesn’t want apps to work the same across devices; it wants iPhone/iPad apps to be singular and best used on its own devices.”  The article describes an e-mail conversation between Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs and Greg Slepak where Steve Jobs compliments the coverage of John Gruber’s Blog posting explaining why Apple Changed Section 3.3.1 of their Terms of Service agreement for the iPhone Developer Kit.

What about Adobe?  Were they trying to steal market share from Objective-C and make Flash CS5 the de facto standard, or were they just trying to be responsive to the marketplace?  Lee Brimlow, Platform Evangelist for Adobe, had this to say on his blog, “Adobe and Apple has had a long relationship and each has helped the other get where they are today. The fact that Apple would make such a hostile and despicable move like this clearly shows the difference between our two companies. All we want is to provide creative professionals an avenue to deploy their work to as many devices as possible. We are not looking to kill anything or anyone…”  Brimlow ends his post with the following: “Go Screw Yourself Apple.”

Anyone who has been in the tech industry long enough knows that it’s an industry where rules are made to be broken, and, in this Mashup mobilized world that we techies inhabit, if there is any rule to which we expect our tech trailblazers to adhere, it is this: Don’t be evil.  Those three simple words encompass two decades of geek-class shenanigans that would hot flash Shirley Temple curls bone-straight.  Contrary to the thinly sprayed exterior of nerd gloss, the tech world is filled with evil genius.  World domination is only a by-product of outplaying the next guy.  These are chess moves, done in increments, so it’s only a matter of time until your opponent upends the playing field with disruptive tech.

So yeah, Apple punk-whacked Adobe, blasting the collaborative partnership in the process.  Apple not only aimed and fired, they fired with timing, making their announcement of the CS5 ban the weekend of the CS5 launch.  It’s Apple, people.  Just because a new generation thinks that Apple is cool, doesn’t mean that Apple is also nice.  Another thing to remember about Apple is this, for all that they like to put on the “We’re-just-like-you-only-cooler” act, if you’re a twenty-something developer raised with an open-source mindset, they are not “just like you.”  Apple is old-school brawl.  They cut their baby teeth on Bill Gates’ thick dome and Larry Ellison’s faux zen.  They wear desktop mentality like a high-powered weapon, meaning they have always held a closed platform view with proprietary application development policies.  The only thing that has changed is that they have gotten big enough to matter. Beyond Apple’s platform view, rumblings of Apple’s discontent with Adobe have been reported as early as January 2010.  In a Wired article, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, reportedly said this of Adobe:  “They are lazy.  They have all this potential to do interesting things but they just refuse to do it . . . Apple does not support Flash because it is so buggy. Whenever a Mac crashes more often than not it’s because of Flash. No one will be using Flash. The world is moving to HTML5.”

It’s Your Move, Playa:

With all the furor over the Apple / Adobe rift, it’s easy to forget that there are other players in the Mobile Device and Applications Development Platform business.  The two biggest are Google and Microsoft. Like Adobe, Google has also recently entered the Application Development market. Like Apple, they have introduced their own operating system and mobile platform, Web OS, which runs on the Android phone. Unlike Apple, Google is utilizing an open platform strategy.  Their goal is to lure programmers away from Apple by offering openness and flexibility in opposition to Apple’s proprietary control. There are very few limitations on Google’s Android phone, and developers are free to develop apps any way they choose.

Finally, there’s Microsoft, which has been competing with Adobe Flash through their Silverlight product. Microsoft has also been competing with Apple and Android in the mobile phone and Appliance Device markets.

A good fight is fun to watch, but Who Wins?

It’s a geek throw-down, but don’t get caught up in the drama.  For the rest of us, the focus should be on the marketplace. GetJar statistics shows 6 major leaders in the mobile phone market: Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, LG, BlackBerry, and Motorola. Combined, the top 6 command 80.53 % of the market as of April 6, 2010. Nokia has nearly 51.99% of the market, almost 40% over Sony-Ericsson, the number 2 player, which has 13.08% market share. The iPhone only has 0.1% of market.  Google has less than 0.01% of the market.

As for the Application Development market, or as it is now called in the web age, the Rich Internet Application market, it’s all about adoption rates, and according to Stat Owl, Flash has the full support of the marketplace with an adoption rate of 96.11%.  Oracle’s Java is in second place with an adoption rate of 79.14%.  Microsoft’s Silverlight is in third place with a 47.25% adoption rate.

This is a fight over which tool kit developers are using to develop applications, particularly mobile applications.  With the iPhone, Apple created a new beast.  It is not one thing or another.  It is a personal device that does a lot of what people want it to do.  That’s why it’s such a phenomena.  It is a category all its own with integrated music, movies, phone, notes, etc.  With its Apps store, Apple has made it’s platform the “gold rush” for developers trying to become programming millionaires. It’s an opportunity unlike anything seen since Microsoft was minting millionaires in the early 80′s.  To develop Apps for Apple, you have to learn Objective-C, but that’s not the real problem.  The real problem is that the only thing you can do with Objective-C is what Steve Jobs wants you do to with Objective-C.  Adobe called foul on this totalitarian view, ostensibly for the sake of their hard-earned 96.11 % market share.

So who wins?  Microsoft. Here’s why…

Why Microsoft Wins:

In the Application Development Tools Market, Microsoft is already the winner and has been for a decade. They dominate the desktop operating system market, and business applications tools development. Adobe and Apple have always been playing catch up to Microsoft in the applications development market. Granted, Microsoft fell behind when Apple leapfrogged them with both their music player and their phone / mobile operating system. They also fell behind Adobe when Adobe leapfrogged them with Flash, allowing non-programmers to build business and marketing applications. However, Microsoft has been coming on really strong over the last year on a number of fronts.

Microsoft Silverlight is in the 4th year of development, it’s now a viable development and user platform that blows Flash out of the water. Adobe has been playing catch up to Microsoft since 2008 because of the advances in Silverlight version 3, and now 4.0. Adobe has been struggling to deliver an integrated “Managed Code” development environment.

In terms of the mobile devices, Microsoft is a huge winner with the introduction of the Ford Sync product. Also, Microsoft is just announcing their all new Windows Phone 7 platform that will run on Nokia, Sony-Ericsson, Samsung, and LG phones. This means that Microsoft will be in a position to dominate the mobile phone OS battle because they’ll have their operating system on the phone manufacturers which currently dominate 80% of the market.

Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS allows you to play music and video, and run applications, just like the iPhone. Plus, it runs on a Silverlight-based operating system for a rich internet application experience. The Windows Phone 7, Silverlight OS, allows for codecs and DRM encoded streaming media, animation, motion sensing, multi-touch interface, location awareness, and push notifications. In other words, it has every feature the iPhone has and several new ones.

One other thing: Windows Phone 7 also has support for high performance gaming through the Microsoft XNA framework. XNA is a game development platform that will allow developers to build very complex interactive games for mobile devices. The XNA framework also allows users to interact via their Xbox Live account for multi-player gamer experiences.

Conclusions:

Apple, Adobe, and Microsoft all have huge releases coming out this month. While Apple and Adobe are fighting about Flash iPhone Applications and trying to get Flash to play on the iPhone and iPad, Microsoft is quietly leapfrogging them both. I believe that Microsoft will emerge as the ultimate winner of the Application Development Platform of choice.

Disclosures:

For the record, I own 4 iPhones, I have 3 Macs, and 4 PC’s. I had a Windows Mobile Smart Phone until the iPhone came out, then I converted.

Your thoughts?

Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted by on April 12, 2010 in Featured, TechKnowledgy Articles

 

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