Microsoft Windows 8.1 – Corporate Policies and Common Sense

October 19, 2013

Dear Microsoft Corporate Executives,

Yesterday I was working an idea with Brian Lagunas to start a new developer user group at Boise State University. The positives for group members and local business looking for bright talent can’t be understated; not to mention all the other benefits of getting plugged into a local developer user group.

As I was thinking about the first meeting topic, unfortunately Windows 8.1 sideloading bubbled straight to the top of this list.

Please see the blog post links at the bottom of this post on sideloading by Regional Director and MVP Rockford Lhotka. Microsoft Executives, if you have not read these, please do so.

Goggle’s stock just crept past $1,000 yesterday (10-/18/2013). Microsoft stock has hovered in the low to mid $30’s for many years.

In light of this you have to ask, why is this? Seems to me that if the company I worked for has to fight an uphill battle to regain Wall Street’s and market investor’s confidence that I would implement policies that don’t hinder or shipwreck the impressive work of my company employees.

The policy to prevent users, developers, and businesses from freely loading Windows Runtime software onto their own Windows 8.1 machines that does not come from the Windows Store, has to be in the all-time Top 10 List of “Poor Self-Destructive Corporate Decisions.”

Under the current policy, I can’t write a Modern Application for Windows 8.1 and give it to my family members or friends. Mr. & Mrs. Executive, if you can’t see the huge negative side-effect of this let me help you.  You are hurting the company you’re working for and have no understanding of Microsoft culture (inside and outside the company).  Time for you to join a developer user group, start attending code camps and get enlightened.

Under the current policy, I can’t write a Modern Application for my new Surface 2 Pro and use it except for testing. No need to write more verbiage, if you don’t understand this, you should probably turn in your blue badge.

Under the current policy, non-volume license small-medium businesses can’t write Modern Applications and deploy them to their own company Windows 8.1 systems without spending $3,000 for 100 license keys and jumping through a bunch of other hoops.  If my business has 10 users, why would I spend $3,000 to just load my internal applications? If this is the long-term prognosis for Windows 8.1+ my company will be on Windows 7 forever or migrate to another operating system.

Mr. & Mrs. Executive you are killing the adoption of Windows 8.1 in the business world, not be mention again that your stock is stagnant. People have been complaining about this policy for years now. What are you waiting for? Don’t you want to regain consumer and business confidence in the direction and policies of your flagship Windows 8.1 operating system?

Common Sense

Yes, I’m making a reference to the world changing pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775-1776 that inspired people to rise up against Great Britain.

Microsoft Corporate common sense is long overdue. Continue on this path, and Microsoft will see Apple or Google computers continue taking over households and possibly business desktops. Google executives have to be drooling over policies like this.

You see, this senseless policy actually pushes businesses towards writing their internal applications using HTML5 and JavaScript. Now, all business users can access the application from any device, including an Apple or Google devices.  Really, who needs Office? There are other productivity options and operating systems for desktops.

BTW:  My entire family switched over to Apple years ago for their home computers.  Why, because Apple delivered a first-rate home eco system that never has any issues. (iMac, iPad, iPhone, MacBooks, Apple TV, iTunes, and no sideloading non-sense on non-IOS devices.  Yes, I own all of them. Why, because they just work and if you have a question you get first-rate phone support or can go to the local Apple Store.)

Continue policies like this, making it difficult for home users, business users, and developers and you’ll see continued decline from which there will be little chance of long-term recovery. Monitus es.  (it’s Latin).

When I worked in the retail industry we had a saying, that it only takes one stupid action by a store employee to drive the customer to another retailer.  People don’t want to deal with non-sense and headaches.  If this is your story your long-time customers will go to other places, even if you have great products like Surface 2 Pro.

What are Apple’s Policies?

Mac Application Distribution:  Apple Store, and non-Apple Store Deployment at no extra costs or hoops.

iOS Distribution:  Apple Store, Business B2B, and Ad Hoc distribution to 100 iOS devices using email or a server at no extra costs or hoops.

Apple lets developers develop for themselves, family, friends, their business, etc. while at the same time protecting users from harmful software. For example the Mac OS has the Gatekeeper feature which is turned on by default, great for home users.

What About You Karl?

I know that corporate policy takes time and legal review (lawyers move at glacier speed) before it can be changed.

So for now, I’m giving this one more go (pray for me) before I jump off the Titanic and join the Apple developer world and learn Objective-C (sigh).

Microsoft, I want to light my hair on fire, supercharge my passion for development, and release it. I want to feel that electrifying passion running through my veins like it once did.

I’ve ordered my Surface 2 Pro and will be attending VSLive in Orlando in November 2013. I really want to program against the Modern Windows 8.1 Runtime. I love the Microsoft community and cherished working at Microsoft. My recent trip to Redmond to see my former team was a real joy.

(The main reason I left Microsoft two years ago was because I couldn’t get behind many of the new policies at that time and the shunning of WPF.  Passion that I was hired for died; time to go.)

I think Microsoft Windows Servers and server products rock. I say that without equivocation. Since SQL Server version 7, it has been the only database I’ve used.  Why? Its fantastic, its fast, it works, and I’ve never lost a single byte of data.

If only these Modern Windows 8.1 policies didn’t block and stifle me as a creative and boundary pushing developer. A developer that likes to write blog posts about Microsoft technologies and ways to use them.

You see I come from the VAX/VMS, Alpha/VMS world.  VMS had only one set of API’s that all programming languages targeted. Super for developers and DEC as well.

I really believe in the concept of the Windows Runtime; a single API that all languages can target.

This is a grand-slam for the Microsoft Windows platform. The reason that this achievement is getting drowned out for business users is all the noise and frustration around sideloading and the tablet UI of Modern Windows.  (I’ll save that for another post, because there are workarounds for the usability problems for business desktop users.)

I would gladly migrate my .NET applications and do green field development against Modern Windows Runtime if I could deploy my applications.  (deploy from webserver, network share, USB, or local drive)  But, under the current policy I can’t. Neither can the majority of business users and developers around the world.

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This is not a personal attack against any single person at Microsoft, especially Mr. Steve Ballmer. I have no knowledge (first hand, second hand, third hand, deep background, etc.) of who or how these above policies were implemented or why they remain in-force.

This is a very strong opinion (universally shared by most of the private and corporate developer community) that points out the self-destructiveness of these policies.

Microsoft, the ball is in your court.  You have legions of developers, MVP’s, and RD’s that would gladly provide constructive feedback and alternatives to enable these scenarios and also meet Microsoft business and security requirements.

Have a great day.  I appreciate feedback or corrections to this post.

Just a grain of sand on the worlds beaches.

 

Rockford Lhotka’s Thoughts on Sideloading

http://www.lhotka.net/weblog/ThoughtsOnBuild2013.aspx

http://www.lhotka.net/weblog/Windows8WinRTLicensingIdeas.aspx

http://www.lhotka.net/weblog/SideloadingOnWindows8.aspx


Running Windows 8.1 in the Enterprise

October 14, 2013

Like many enterprise companies, we have been slow to move to Windows 8.1  Actually just went to Windows 7 last year. Another adoption blocker is the tablet UI of Windows 8.  Great for the Surface 2, but for enterprise users, getting them to buy off on a new window management and layout is a tuff sell.  All our work windows boxes have 30” and 24” monitors.  Same setup at home too. So running all applications from the tablet UI makes no sense.  I also have a 27” iMac.  Never use the full screen feature for any application.  With 27” don’t need to.

I really want to be able to write enterprise applications against Windows 8.1 WinRT. Lots of goodness there and it will get better with each release. I and my users want to be able to run these WinRT applications on the desktop in windows.

Have a look at the below image.  Yes, that is a modern application in a desktop window. In addition, it does not get suspended like the applications in the tablet UI. You can maximize the window or run it normal next to or overlaying other windows.

There are several techniques for launching modern WinRT applications from the desktop in a window. I chose to use ModernMix from StarDock. Very simple to install, launch applications and use.

WinRTOnDeskTop

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This capability gives me hope for mission critical enterprise applications that are the work horses of business users around the world.

Have a great day,

Just a grain of sand on the worlds beaches.


Windows 8 Gives New Life to Older Hardware

September 18, 2011

Like most of you, I’ve been wonderfully surprised by the Microsoft BUILD conference this last week. The delivered software and presentations to help us get started with Windows 8 far exceeded any expectations I had.

To try and add anything to what has been clearly communicated would be foolish on my part.  Instead let me tell you about my “Lazarus” experience this week.

I’ve been eyeing the Asus EP121 for several weeks now. I got to play with one at the Bellevue Microsoft Store. This is one sweet unit.

Well, I have a dusty, HP tm2 TouchSmart Laptop/Tablet. It has a Core i3 1.2ghz, 4GB memory, integrated graphics card, slow 5400rpm drive. My thinking was, if I can pull a Lazarus on this computer for 6-12 months, I’ll save myself the $1,000 now and wait for the next generation hardware and with fast CPU, SSD, HD screen, etc.

I did use the HP tm2 for Window Phone 7 development and OneNote note taking.  It was kind of slow, especially compared to other modern hardware.

The slowness was not attributed to Windows 7, but rather to lame hardware. 

PC hardware manufacturers please start making decent hardware that competes with Apple’s hardware and PLEASE stop putting crapware on my new PC. All crapware should be a line item, opt-in.

I need to move off this topic before I go into a tirade.

On the good side, one of the keynotes at BUILD showed new hardware coming soon that looks like the MacBook Air, metal, thin, etc.  At last. Please offer good components in your units, I’ll pay for them.

So I replaced the first generation 5,400rpm hard drive with a 7,200 second generation SATA. Was getting just a little excited, breathing new life into my laptop.

Lazarus!

Following simple directions on Scott Hanselman’s blog, I loaded the Win8 Preview on a USB.

When I booted the laptop I change the default boot to the USB so I could install Windows.  When Windows restarts, don’t forget to change the default boot back to your hard drive.

Installation took 12 minutes; Windows, Visual Studio, demo applications, etc.  Core i3 and a decent disk, still respectable.

The laptop boots very quickly, applications are responsive and fun to use.  I have not installed Office yet, but will soon. For now, just learning to get around Windows 8 and how to write Metro XAML apps.

Scud Missile

After I logged in, I ran Windows Update and one of the items installed was the, “Microsoft IntelliPoint 8.2 Mouse Software for Windows – 64 bit” This update on my laptop caused the touch to quick working.  So I used Add Remove programs to uninstall it, rebooted and got touch working again.

Visual Studio XAML Designer Patch

You need to install a patch published by the Expression Team to correct a mouse issue with the designer.

https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/Downloads/DownloadDetails.aspx?DownloadID=38599

After downloading, don’t forget to “Unblock” the .zip file.  The instructions left this out.

You MUST follow the installation instructions, most important you must install the patch as an administrator.

The fun part will be trying to figure out how to open an Administrator Command Prompt. I could not figure out how to do this using the Metro interface.  So… I opened Windows Explorer in the Desktop, navigated to the \Windows\system32 folder, right-clicked on the cmd.exe file and selected, “Run as Administrator.” While you at it, go ahead and pin that Administrator Command Window to the TaskBar, problem solved.

Getting Around Windows 8

Since you probably won’t be writing code using your TouchScreen keyboard, you’ll want to get up to speed on Windows Shortcuts. The following blog post is being recommended by several on Twitter so I’ve included it here as well.

http://www.winrumors.com/windows-8-tips-and-tricks-for-mousekeyboard-users/

Before Your Frist Project

Before you dive into your first Metro project, take time and watch some of the BUILD videos. If you only watch one video, watch this one: http://channel9.msdn.com/events/BUILD/BUILD2011/BPS-1004. Jensen Harris clearly explains Metro and the thinking behind it. He is also one of the best presenters at BUILD and connects with the audience and viewers alike.

Video

The below video shows my HP tm2 after the Lazarus operation.  Short, 3 minutes gives you a good feel for how a Core i3 runs Windows 8.

http://www.vimeo.com/29222402

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These are good times for Windows developers.

For me, I’m finishing up my WPF/Prism BBQ Shack program and will move the cash register and online purchasing modules to Metro.  Metro is perfect for a touch screen cash register.  This will be so much fun to write.

Have a great day,

Just a grain of sand on the worlds beaches.


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