Where do mobile Microsoft developers go now?

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Content Copyright © 2013 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Norfolk Punt

The purchase of Nokia by Microsoft leaves me with mixed feelings. From way back, I don’t think Microsoft really understood phones and Nokia really did. Its Symbian OS possibly wasn’t as easy to develop for as it might be but it fuelled a good user experience.

Whatever one thinks of Windows Phone, I sort-of started discounting Microsoft as a mobile player when I realised that it didn’t seem to realise that digital phone technology was around in Europe and Asia before it was common in the USA. And more so, when it showed me a Windows Mobile use case video which made great play of how people could now work 24×7 for the Company – and illustrated this with a use case of some poor Microsoft exec on a sales tour of Europe, being diverted to Dallas on his way home, and getting a phone call on the plane from His Billness directing him to make contact with some prospect in Dallas, while he was there. Mobile technology is all about making sure that your prospects see exhausted, jet-lagged, bad-tempered, salespersons just before they resign from the company? I think not.

So is the Nokia acquisition the magic potion that will revive Windows Phone; or is Microsoft the kiss of death for Nokia’s culture? Or is the acquisition simply the best of a bad job for both companies? I guess we’ll see, but I was interested to hear that Embarcadero has been talking to Windows developers about how they see their future as developers. Perhaps surprisingly, they were not all lost in a Windows silo. They don’t think that mobile will displace desktop entirely (and that fits with IT history, the new always coexists with the parts of the old ways that worked well; when did you last hear of the “death of the mainframe”, for instance), they see a hybrid future. And, most interestingly, that isn’t just a Windows Desktop/Windows Phone hybrid; it includes iOS and Android too, and these developers see the benefit of managing a single code-base for native deployment on all platforms. There’s some common sense for a change.

This is all prompted by the latest release of RAD Studio XE5 with “True Native” Android and iOS Support, which seems to be targeting Microsoft developers seeking to broaden their horizons. XE5 should be a good fit for these people – it’s based on Delphi, which is a rich programming environment itself built on an Object Pascal foundation; and Delphi’s original designer went to Microsoft to work on C#. These Microsoft developers say they find Javascript and the like far too restrictive compared to C#, say; well, XE5 is, broadly, a member of the same family as C#.

And, of course, XE5 fulfils the promise of XE4 – you can’t really boast of your multi-platform capabilities in Mobile without including Android, these days.

I guess that’s covered the key developments from Embarcadero this time, although there is more; component support for REST clients, for example. Its full research paper does also make interesting reading; from my questioning, it was professionally carried out and there’s a welcome “Survey Methodology and Participant Demographics” section.