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Where The Developers Are: Where Microsoft Wants to Be. Catching up with Tim O’Brien

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I recently headed over to Soho for a meeting with Tim O’Brien, Microsoft Platform Strategy Group general manager. Tim is a good guy that gets it – I have known him for a while now – but I was still a bit taken back by just how pragmatic he was about the changing face of the application development landscape, and how open Microsoft apparently is to the change. The quotes below are just a selection things he said that I think deserve some attention.

“The way we’re thinking about the industry is through the lens that developers look at it: its about building apps, making money and solving tough problems.”

“We need to think more like the web…. one stack to run them all has gone away. This stuff about single vendor stacks is behind us. The days of recruiting developers to where you are is over. You have to go to where they are.”

We have been talking about open source for a long time, but now we’re hanging out on GitHub. We need to ship the bits and go there, where the developers are.”

Microsoft seems only too aware of the new reality of its changed place in the world – I guess competing with Apple will do that to you, which does rather beg the question- is Tim right that single vendor stacks are behind us, given the rise and rise of the tightly controlled, vertically integrated, Apple ecosystem model? We’re going to find out. But from a Microsoft Developer Experience perspective Tim has it just right – go where the developers are.

Ending on a word of advice then – Microsoft needs to be careful to avoid making Visual Studio the only place to access its SDKs. Because while a lot of developers still live in VS – plenty don’t. I still believe Microsoft could do a lot more with respect to the Mac (and now IoS). But it is making some of the right moves embracing technology like Node.js.

disclosure: Microsoft is a client.



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