Saturday, September 21, 2002

Platform adoption -- the role of the software developer

There is a comment that I made to Eric Knorr in my interview with him that seems to have been misunderstood by some readers. It is also a key to understanding why Microsoft has been so successful while other platform vendors have not. I said:

"In the non-Microsoft world, there is very little appreciation for how important the developer is to the ultimate success of the platform."

Geoff Stevenson wrote in, pointing out that Linux has been entirely developer driven and that "...these are people who actually care in a personal way about what they're doing..." He also chided me for extoling the virtues of Microsoft... which I had not done.

The point I was trying to make was actually entirely consonant with this reader's view. It is because software developers are often passionate about their creations that they can contribute so much to the success of a platform. The rapid growth of Linux, and the quality of that platform is a testament to that fact.

My point was that amongst platform vendors, Microsoft has been one of the few companies that have really focused on the role of the software developer in making their platform a success. This focus causes them to create good developer tools, good partner programs for developers, and a variety of educational forums for teaching developers the Microsoft way. By contrast, look at Palm which has no development tools and a miniscule partner program. They simply haven't focused on developers and are now paying the price as Win CE begins to have all of the exciting content for customers of handheld devices -- its the developer that makes the product something that a consumer wants to buy.

Microsoft itself has struggled in the game station market for exactly this reason. The "hit" software is on the Sony and Nintendo devices. So Microsoft has even had to buy game development companies in order to get the hit products that will help them sell the Xbox.

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