Windows 8: New JavaScript convert.

In Microsoft, Programming Paradigm on September 20, 2011 at 9:40 am

Microsoft is going through a serious identity crisis.   According to El Reg, Windows 8 will be emphasizing that the development platform for the new OS will be (though not exclusively) JavaScript and HTML (Windows 8’s UI though will be in JavaScript, very much like having a browser for an OS).   This is hardly unique as Linux distributions have led the way in using JavaScript for UI:  namely Gnome 3 and Unity. From a developer’s standpoint, hmm ok that would be me, this is tantamount to hoisting a white flag in the programming paradigm war.  That being presentation and logic should be separate (with .NET, ASP tech everything is usually in one file).  This is also a realization that in order for MS to continue to be relevant they have to make sure that their development tools and products that it churns out can be accessed cross-platform.  They’ve tried to force their way by shoving .NET and ActiveX down corporate IT’s throats and in many ways, they’ve succeeded.  In my job as a consultant,  I see a lot of  ‘in-house’ built web applications that can only be accessed using IE (of course win32 apps, despite the limited success of Wine, are still largely windows-bound).

Now, with the plethora of Tablets and smart phones numbering in the gazillions (and with Forrester research saying that by 2015 Tablets will overtake Laptops in sales) and with the vast majority with not a drop of MS technology exactly how relevant will MS be by that time?  How will the corporate world develop their apps if their own internal users begin clamoring for Tablets that runs iOS or Android? Microsoft knows that the chances of it catching up with Apple and Android is slim and they have to live with the new reality: it has and will continue to lose relevance first and foremost in the user space (began by smartphones and tables) then increasingly and more critically in the corporate environment.

The move of (grudgingly?) embracing JavaScript and HTML as the programming platform for Windows 8 will allow them to continue peddling tools to corporate users. This time, they will be able to say that the new tools can be used to develop apps which can be accessed by other devices.  How it gets there is a bit tricky since many companies have invested millions of man hours developing using their .NET framework and apparently that piece of technology (along with relative new comer Silverlight — their answer to Flash) can still be used albeit using a ‘common’ metadata so it’s easier to use either in the new VisualStudio.

At the end of the day,  Microsoft really has no choice but to go this route.  It’s not Developers! Developers! anymore but Relevance! Relevance! Relevance!


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