Posts Tagged ‘democratization’

Democratizing Development is What Matters in Computing

May 24, 2016

Twenty five years ago I was lucky enough to be one of the people demonstrating the brand new Visual Basic development system at its launch event, Comdex Spring/Windows World in Atlanta.

In honor of that anniversary I’ve done some thinking about success of platforms in the computing world and have the following thoughts.

Where Microsoft has succeeded it has been when they catered to the casual developer, the hobbyist who tinkers with code, the tech savvy business person who has an itch to scratch.

The Altair could be programmed by "professional developers" without Microsoft BASIC but not by the average person.

The Apple ][, TRS-80 and Commodore PET could be programmed by "professional developers" without Microsoft BASIC but not by the average person.

MS-DOS could be programmed by "professional developers" without Microsoft QuickBASIC but not by the average person

Windows could be programmed by "professional developers" without Visual Basic but not by the average person

  • Windows 1 and 2 did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. They failed.
  • OS|2 did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.
  • Xenix did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.
  • Pocket Size PC did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.
  • Windows Mobile did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.
  • .NET did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.
  • Internet Explorer and IIS did not have tools the average person could use to develop software. It failed.

I’ll even go one step further.

Every time Microsoft has succeeded it has been when they catered to the casual developer, the hobbyist who tinkers with code, the tech savvy business person who has an itch to scratch. The person who needs to build "real apps, real fast".

Every time Microsoft has failed it has been because they forgot that lesson and catered to the professional developers’ existing skill set and power base and forgot the masses of users who want their computer/tablet/phone/browser to do a little something but who aren’t willing or able to learn massively complex tools to solve that small problem that really annoys them.

Visual Basic was that shining moment of remembering the point of personal computers for the GUI phase of the personal computer revolution. It enabled the millions of casual users to write that little tool they needed and share it out with their friends and co-workers. It was the synergy that ended the command line and moved the world to GUIs which led more people to using personal computers which led to more of those personal application which created the virtuous cycle that made Windows the dominant computer platform.

Frankly, what Microsoft needs right now is a Visual Basic for Universal Apps. I suspect Satya is bright enough to realize that – at least I hope he is.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: