I know that it is always pretty lame to lament about the work of other people. I also know that Microsoft as a company is very successful and that there where a lot of improvements in their products over the last years. In this article I just want to express my feelings about the overall visible strategic efforts this companies shows in the areas I’m concerned of which is Windows, Azure and Visual Studio.
The triggers for this article where the presentation of Windows 11, the current state of VS 2022 and the announcements around postponing MAUI as well as day 1 of Ignite 2021. I also should mention that the competitor efforts - especially those from Apple - gave me even more momentum to sit down and write about all the stuff going on in my head.
What do I think?
In short - I’m disappointed. I’m also a little bit shocked. Let me explain.
It is 2021 and we all have spent a lot of time talking about modern software development, innovation pressure, community voices and stuff like that. Now imagine me watching the Windows 11 keynote during a trip to Italy. I took out my notebook on a sunny day there, got myself a cup of Cappuccino sat back and connected to the stream. I was expecting something really big. I know that all the “facts” around Windows 11 where leaked already but I was hoping that Microsoft will finally come up with their own ”… one more thing”. But no! They bring up this strange dude which I as a Windows developer can’t relate to. He’s then spending a tremendous amount of time trying to pretend that he is for some reason completely open to us. The only effect this had on me personally was that no real important details where shown. I left with more questions than I had before. When will it be available for download? What has changed under the hood? Is it really just a polished Windows 10? What do you mean by telling us that Teams can now speak to ALL kinds of communication platforms? And the list goes on.
One of my best friends (an Apple Fanboy) just called me right after this and joked on me about the poor technical presentation of Satya´s part. And I was ashamed to give him the right. If you compare this to Apple´s quality or even your own Teams sessions I was stunned (negatively!) by what was presented to my by a billion-worth company.
The biggest fail to me was the appearance of Satya Nadelle here. What is the CEO of Microsoft (who claimed that Windows isn’t a strategic product of Microsoft anymore some years ago!) doing in a so minor product update? What is the signal this sends to the market when compared to the huge innovations Apple brought to the market just before this?
But ok! Lets say it’s just a mistake or was forced because of the pressure the market and the shareholders put on Microsoft. This does not explain the current state of affairs in other product areas. Some samples:
- Teams in the last months gut buggier and unreliable
- MAUI as one of the biggest news for .NET 6 is not making it this year.
- The MS hardware is notoriously unstable especially my beloved Surface Pros which are just not competing anymore.
- Important Azure services are experiencing major outtakes with degrading level of information provided by Microsoft.
- The community hub for developers is still ashamingly poor designed and outdated.
- I still can’t detect THE central information source for updates on this big universe of services in the cloud. I’m forced to collect these from incomplete RSS feeds and community blogs somehow.
- Its not clear where Azure DevOps is heading. Will it be a board-frontend for Github? Will the pipeline-section be completely replaced? When can I use YAML-based release pipelines if ever? What should I think about the fact that every MS spokesman talks about GitHub actions and to on pipelines?
- Why is it that every MS event is moving away from technology more and more. We are now presented with tons of customer stories I can’t relate to in my daily business. On the other hand MS is putting out more and more AI which on the one hand is good. On the other hand it is not the problem area the majority of my customers are at currently.
- Important tools to manage the complexity in Azure are not getting ready. Bicep is not 1.0. Policies are a hell to manage in Azure.
- What is the future of important technologies like Blockchain in Azure? The current state of affairs confuses me.
Some other things confuse me too but I think you’ve got my point. Just to mention them here are some questions that haunt me at night:
- What exactly differentiates the Power Platform from VBA and Access? Is this more secure and reliable or just the same bad idea in a new dress?
What do I want then?
Microsoft was on a pretty different track some years ago. Remember the buy-in of Xamarin? Or the cool drive VS Code gave us? What about WSL2? Wasn’t it cool? I thought so and I would love to see more of those things from Redmond! Don’t get me wrong! They have to talk about trending topics a lot to address important people. But don’t forget the people your success is built upon - the developers.
You already have different conferences (I don’t .NET Conf because MS does not too)! Use them to target developers more deeply again. What this means is simple:
- No customer stories please.
- Put tech sessions first.
- Give Scott Hanselman at least 2 hours on stage!
- Give Mark Russinovich the remaining time!
In short: Start seeing your developer community again!
P.S.: I refer to the real devs writing code here. Low-code and no-code are tools we build for experienced end users. Please don’t put them in our shelve!