Archive for January, 2011

Silverlight bashing

January 28, 2011

Poor old Silverlight. Once upon a time, the application framework was one of the keys to writing rich internet applications and it was the darling of a strong development community.

But it’s been a tough 12 months-or-so for Silverlight. First, HTML5 started to look good – really good. Big providers have been queuing up to back the next generation web framework, knowing HTML5 offers key features that could help break an over-reliance on a series of web-browser plug-ins.

Further pain mid-year came when Apple CEO Steve Jobs laid into rival plug-in Adobe Flash, attacking the non-standardised nature of the framework and removing the capability for Flash to work on Apple’s leading devices such as the iPad and iPhone. Plug-ins, it seemed, were no longer the flavour of the month.

But there was still Microsoft, of course – they wouldn’t abandon their own framework. Not abandon, no – but mixed messages from Redmond towards the back-end of 2010 really didn’t help the cause of Silverlight.

First, Internet Explorer general manager Dean Hachamovitch suggested that the future of the web was HTML5. Then a few weeks later, Microsoft’s director of product management for developer platforms Brad Becker said the Silverlight framework actually extended the web by enabling scenarios that HTML does not cover.

So, what are these scenarios? Well, they’re actually pretty limited. Bob Muglia, the Microsoft president in charge of the company’s server and tools business, recently said Silverlight is the provider’s development platform for Windows Phone (see further reading, below).

Anything else, or is that it? Muglia stressed that Silverlight will also be important in specific areas, such as media. But when it comes to the big stuff – the cross-media development – then he believes that HTML5 offers the only true solution for everything.

That must be pretty tough for the legions of devoted Silverlight developers. And that rough feeling is only like to grow, as Silverlight increasingly becomes a niche platform for niche applications.

That type of specificity is simply a non-starter. The future of consumer and business interaction is the mobile. Businesses have to find ways to write once and deploy multiple times, rather than having to develop across several platforms for a broad range of operating systems and devices.

Plug-ins have a bad effect on the high quality web browsing experience. Users have to run applications before they can see content. In the worst – and increasingly large number – of cases, the plug-in might not even be compatible with the browser or device.

For individuals, the pain of plug-ins will be removed as HTML5 becomes the standard for web development. For Silverlight and its associated plug-in counterparts, the future looks grim.

Further reading

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-our-strategy-with-silverlight-has-shifted/7834

 http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/facing-up-to-it/2010/12/the-future-is-mass-mobile-and-niche-native-apps/index.htm

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Another windows mobile launch…yawn !

January 23, 2011

The launch of Windows Mobile 7, Microsoft’s completely new mobile operating system has been and gone. Much of the media’s attention has been directed towards whether the system will provide a viable alternative platform to iPhone or Android. What the press should really be asking is why the technical gurus in Redmond are actually bothering with the launch at all.

 The world is going mobile and Microsoft, as the king of the desktop operating system, cannot afford to move to prince and possibly pauper in the mobile era. But the chances are that, despite more development money being lavished on another mobile platform, they might not have a choice.

 For a start, the market already looks sewn up (see further reading, below). Symbian remains the market leader but its market share continues to fall in relation to Android and Apple, the two software systems driving smarter mobile development and growth at the hardware level.

 Analyst Gartner recently reported that Android and Apple were the winners in the smart phone operating system market during the first quarter of 2010. Both were the only two platforms to increase market share year-on-year.

 For Windows Mobile, the picture was far less impressive. Android moved to the number four position, displacing Windows Mobile for the first time. But Windows Mobile 7 is coming; won’t the new system provide a significant challenge to the established market leaders?

 That, however, is not what the experts believe (see further reading). Gartner predicts Microsoft’s mobile market share will rise to just 5.2 per cent in 2011, up from the current 4.7 per cent, and will fall back to 3.9 per cent in 2014. Such trends suggest the experts are far from convinced about the prospects of Windows Mobile 7.

 Consumers are picking operating systems that help deliver a rich user experience, and the market for the delivery of that experience is likely to consolidate around a few key providers.

 Microsoft’s current Windows Mobile system user interface is problematic (see further reading): multitasking is difficult; moving between – and closing apps – is complicated. There has to be hope that Windows Mobile 7 will help remove many of these long-standing concerns.

 However, the supplier is playing catch-up. And worryingly for Microsoft – and despite the launch of Windows Mobile 7 – Gartner’s statistics suggest the supplier’s mobile strategy does not look set to attract new users.

 The desktop of the future is the mobile device but I would suggest the operating system of choice will not come from Microsoft.

Further reading:

 http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1372013

 http://www.pcr-online.biz/news/34555/Android-to-Become-No-2-worldwide-mobile-OS

 http://gizmodo.com/333536/whats-wrong-with-windows-mobile-and-how-wm7-and-wm8-are-going-to-fix-it

Birth of the User Experience Platform (UXP)

January 15, 2011

Regular readers will know I have an interest in the user experience. Actually, it’s more like a passion – so, what’s next for web and user interaction technologies?

 Gartner has answered that question in their recently released hype cycle paper on the next generation web (see further reading, below). The cycle itself raises some interesting issues and trends, not least the potential horror of ‘Web 3.0’ – which the analyst suggests could be an ambiguous and unhelpful term.

 In other areas, Gartner is able to be more precise. The analyst recognises that the web continues to evolve along multiple dimensions, such as social, mobile, programmable and real time. Such developments are taking place outside and within the business, causing growth on an unprecedented scale.

 Much work, however, still needs to be done. Too many workers at too many companies remain unaware of methodologies and processes that can be used to help improve the user experience.

 Understanding the user is everything. Giving users the platform that meets their needs – and inevitably the power to tweak that platform via end-user computing – will sort the web-enabled wheat from the business chaff.

 Once again, that is a trend recognised by Gartner. The analyst suggests that a series of trends, such as context-aware computing, the mobile web and the cloud, are of particular interest right now. However, it is their take on user experience platforms (UXP) that is most significant.

 Earlier in the year, I said I expected the pendulum to swing towards UXP in 2010 (see further reading). That foresight now looks spot on, with Gartner tagging the emerging concept of integrated technologies that help deliver user interaction in its hype cycle.

 The analyst suggests the UXP is developing as a critical platform, which represents the convergence of presentation layer technology. It suggests the UXP helps provide consistency and integration, helping users to have a similar experience across multiple platforms. A UXP, in short, provides significant efficiencies.

 Gartner suggests vendors have been slow to match demand and that the market will emerge through 2013. Some specialists, however, are ahead of the game – and the analyst’s hype cycle identifies edge IPK as a UXP vendor.

 Once again, it’s nice to be proven correct and even better that our good work is recognised. My advice is to take a look at the UXP now; it’s increasingly a business necessity and you will be way ahead of your competitors.

Further reading:

 http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?id=1407814&ref=g_sitelink

 http://blogs.computerworlduk.com/facing-up-to-it/2010/04/user-experience-platforms-uxp/index.htm

2010 in review

January 3, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2010. That’s about 5 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 42 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 95 posts. There were 3 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 68kb.

The busiest day of the year was November 11th with 38 views. The most popular post that day was Microsoft wake up to smell the coffee.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were edgeipk.com, netvibes.com, twitter.com, itdatabase.com, and google.co.uk.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for end user development, cross platform mobile, end-user development, mobile wars, and single user experience.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Microsoft wake up to smell the coffee November 2010

2

Mobile Wars 1: Cross Platform Mobile February 2010

3

Decoupling the presentation layer January 2010
1 comment

4

Single User Experience April 2010
4 comments

5

Mobile Wars 2: Whats the payback in mobile? March 2010
2 comments