Has Microsoft Already Lost?

I say this with no malice when I say that Real Studio is a fairly small player (development tools-wise) when compared to Microsoft and Apple.  Those two behemoths have much bigger pockets and drive the development environments on their respective platforms.  It’s also fair to say that each has little interest in supporting the other platform.

Real Studio is a good cross-platform development environment that lets a skilled developer create nice Macintosh OS X and Windows applications using one code base.  Most things ‘just work’ and the language makes it easy to take into account the occasional (and sometimes not occasional) platform specific API calls and differences.  Sometimes the differences are a royal pain but rarely have we been stymied in a project as there always seems to be another option available.  And sometimes the trick is know which things to avoid when working on cross-platform apps.

When I started doing Real Studio consulting a decade ago most of the clients who found us were hard-core Apple users.  They had to satisfy their corporate bosses by developing mainly for Windows and if they could get a Mac OS X version as a side benefit that was great.  For the past couple of years it seemed that the clients who contacted us were the corporate IT folks that had legacy Visual Basic projects and didn’t want to convert to .NET (and yes, the boss wanted a Mac version too).

In the past year, however, we’ve been contacted – a lot – by clients invested in .NET and needing a Mac version.  This isn’t just for their internal business apps either – they’re talking about commercial applications.  What’s even more interesting is the number of calls we’ve fielded by existing .NET development shops needing help.

So it begs the question:  Has Microsoft lost the battle of mindshare?  Has Apple now wedged their way into consumer and corporate America to the point where not having a Mac version of your software is a detriment to marketing and sales?

Don’t get me wrong.  Microsoft isn’t going away any time soon, but I can remember a time when if you mentioned Apple (or any non-Microsoft technology for that matter) you were derided for your obvious stupidity.  I can’t tell you how many times I was laughed at for being an Apple developer.  Now, it’s hard(er) to find diehard 100% Microsoft-only IT person.

I decided to write this post after yet another phone call with a .NET developer.  They want Mac versions and they’ve already decided on Real Studio.  But, and this is always the catch, they’re good at .NET and know next to nothing about Real Studio and nothing about Mac development.

That’s where consultants like us come in as we can help bridge the gap in knowledge.  If you’re interested, we have 36 hours of training video’s (over 100 individual videos) available to subscribers at http://www.bkeeney.com/RealStudioTraining/realstudiotraining.cgi including several projects that start from scratch.  I’ve had experience Real Studio developers tell me they’ve learned a few things even by watching the 6 hours of non-subscription video.  Perhaps your .NET developers would get something out of the training?  Perhaps some one-on-one training would helpful?  Contact me – we can help.

I digress (sorry for the shameless plugs).  Have you Real Studio developers been seeing similar trends?  Does .NET seem to be losing its luster?

8 thoughts on “Has Microsoft Already Lost?

  1. I was faced with similar questions a couple of years ago when trying to decide to port two VB6 applications to either .NET or Real Studio. The reason I made the choice to go with RS was the potential of the Mac market and also because of the standalone capabilities of RS. The fact that you need to take additional steps to protect the IP in a .NET assembly from being disassembled was a lesser factor as well.

    Although I probably won’t be releasing a Mac version until early next year, I think I made the right decision about which direction I took. I am feeling better and better about the Mac market, although the RS / Cocoa difficulties is troubling. I did a lot of RS work on the app using Windows initially and when I took it over to the Mac, it compiled and ran under Carbon with a reasonable amount of code changes, tweaks and conditional compiles. Cocoa, is a lot more problems and third party component gotchas. I suppose I’ll get through them, but more problems than I had hoped for.

    By coincidence, I was doing a user base survey this fall and one of the questions I was going to ask was the User’s computer of choice: Windows only, Mac only, both but prefer Windows, or both but prefer Mac. Will be interesting to see what the survey says when I run it this fall. Tablet usage is going to get a few questions as well.

  2. What is really sad is the willful mindset of not dealing with the “enemy”. Since they market a MAC version of Office, you’ve got to imagine there is an “internal” version of .NET for iOS within the halls of M$FT.

  3. *In the past year, however, we’ve been contacted – a lot – by clients invested in .NET and needing a Mac version. This isn’t just for their internal business apps either – they’re talking about commercial applications. What’s even more interesting is the number of calls we’ve fielded by existing .NET development shops needing help.*

    Another possibility is that you are attracting more enquiries because you are better known than you used to be.

  4. @Jim
    Well Mono is pretty stable. Early .NET did have a BSD port – so I imagine they have a working version. That being said I do not believe Mac Office is written in .NET. Most of Office is not written in .NET so they possibly share a lot of low level code. However the interface stuff is all native to OSX.

  5. @jjb
    I don’t discount that possibility. But, it’s not like I’ve done anything different in the last six months than I did a year ago.

    I’m literally talking to a .NET developer every week about Real Studio apps. A year ago I had nothing like that – maybe once every six months.

  6. Bob, I assume you are enrolled and pay Real Software for leads, can you tell if they are Real Software referrals?

  7. Hmmm… started on VB6, always kept and eye on RealBasic but ended up in C#. The size of applications we write and the maintenance/team size requires a strict separation of UI and domain code, IOC and mocking for unit tests.

    The customers I deal with are still all MS centric… Never really too much interest in OSX. They do sometimes ask about iPads… but the are nebulous inquiries. Wouldn’t it be ‘nice’ to have ‘something’ on an iPad. When you ask them to give details of what they’d like they don’t really know. It’s an angsty ‘everybody else is doing it so we need to have a presence’ feeling. If you ask for a value proposition they don’t have one that a PO could be signed off on… That’s not iPad versus Windows. That’s a divide between consumer focused ‘comsumption’ devices versus ‘workstations’.

    They haven’t lost the ‘Enterprise’ market… there isn’t really any competition yet. Java has a space on server. XCode isn’t available on Windows and in any case is far more limiting than what’s available in VS. However, they never really got a foot in the door with the consumer market, which has turned out to be potentially bigger than the enterprise market.
    They are frantically playing catchup at the moment, and in doing so are really pissing off enterprise devs… Windows 8 didn’t really add anything for desktop enterprise applications… Microsoft have this market so well sewn up that they have decided to leave it fallow for a few years and concentrate on the consumer & web app market.

    Office for Mac is not written in .Net. They did release a CLR (but no UI framework) for the Mac before even Mono came out. They did say that they had a iOS native version of Silverlight but that Apple wouldn’t let them put it on iOS (devs might avoid app store)

  8. @Jim
    Yes, we are part of the Referral Program. However, none of these conversations came through the it – these were all ‘out of the blue’ contacts.

    With the Referral program, the potential client adds their project through the Find a Developer program at http://www.realsoftware.com/support/consultants.php. Everyone that’s part of the program then gets a blast email with their project details and contact information.

Comments are closed.