@BrandonWatson Is Listening

One of the things that I have been loving about being back at Microsoft is working in the Developer Platform team.  I have always been a geek, and have this latent developer hiding inside of me.  I love designing interesting applications and services, and love to roll some code when I can, though my close friends will tell you that it’s not a good idea to let me have a compiler handy.  I wish I had more time to work on those projects.

I have a very, very strong outside-in view on the developer platform.  My last company was built on Ruby on Rails.  I think Python is a beautiful language.  I want nothing more than for developers, all developers, to be able to excel at their jobs.  Part of my role now includes bringing that passion for customers and developers and focusing it on reaching out to the community of developers who doesn’t use any Microsoft products.

It’s strange for me to consider that there is an entire generation of developers who have never used a Microsoft product.  I still remember using Microsoft Word for the first time after using WriteNow on the Mac for all of my papers in high school.  To really date myself, ask me about my love for BankStreet Writer on the Apple II.

PIC-0003 Thus begins my quest to speak to as many developers as possible to understand their development environments and hear their reasons why they aren’t using .NET.  I am sure to get some flippant answers, but I want to listen and process and really try to solve for X, where X is “how can Microsoft better serve this community of developers?”

This brings me to the mini-campaign at the TechCrunch50 conference.  I will be wearing the shirt in the photo here throughout the conference, and walking around with a Flip Mino HD talking to as many developers as will let me, with only one question: “If you do not use .NET, can you please tell me why?”  I am not going to say one word about any of Microsoft’s products; that’s not important.  What’s important is listening to this large and growing group of developers building amazing products using Ruby, Python, Django, Rails, Scala, Struts, Erlang, Haskell, Clojure, etc.  My top line goal is to listen, process, and then figure out what we can do to help those developers.

For anyone who wants to avoid the camera, you can always tell me on Twitter.  Why Twitter?  Because I want this to be out the open – the start of a conversation we haven’t been having.  Why my account?  Because I want people to know they are connecting with a person, a Director level person, at Microsoft, and not some alias.  This is a very un-Microsoft thing to do, and I have to give credit to my management chain for letting me go about this as if I were running a small startup.  Let the conversation begin, and remember: @BrandonWatson is listening.

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  • You should know that, even if somehow Visual Studio becomes the best IDE ever, and it supports Ruby on Rails, you still won't have developers migrating. The reason is gem (Ruby library) support. Most developers are happy to assume a POSIX environment — think fork and pipes.

    So, if you want to get any attention from RoR people, start with making Windows a suitable environment for developing. I ran Windows 4 years ago, then I switched to make my RoR-developing life easier. After switching, I stopped logging into Connect. Then I stopped reading up on new Visual Studio features/versions. About a year ago, I stopped caring whether my gems work on Windows.

    Ideally: make Windows POSIX-compliant. At the very least: make it really easy for developers who don't care too much about Windows to test our gems on Windows. Maybe give out well-tuned VirtualBox VMs with Windows XP and the right parts of the Windows SDK installed so people can test their gems and release binary gems for Windows.

    If you want to look ahead, instead of catching up… release a FuseFS port (probably different implementation, but with the same API), so Windows can run the cool distributed file-systems that are developed by systems research nowadays.

    I know my answer isn't what you want. I don't think there's any miraculous way to turn the devs who are happy back into MS users. However, you can reduce the bleed by giving Windows-based devs less reasons to switch.

  • kentasato

    Stronger side of developer use when Microsoft is working is perhaps .NET X twitter-Python. But it seems to me like Japanese corporate world has been developing the other alternative node to the Twitter products, i.e. DoCoMo and AU-Softbank Microsoft CE.

  • kentasato

    Stronger side of developer use when Microsoft is working is perhaps .NET X twitter-Python. But it seems to me like Japanese corporate world has been developing the other alternative node to the Twitter products, i.e. DoCoMo and AU-Softbank Microsoft CE.