Two Reasons to Look for an Alternative to Microsoft Wherever It’s Feasible

Microsoft often makes great tools to solve problems that Microsoft frameworks often bring into existence – like a drug company that also manufactures sickness. Many Microsoft tools appear impressive because of the magnitude of the problems that they solve.Scott Bellware

Microsoft in general has an amazing capacity to state blatantly: “That stuff we sold you last year was total crap but please trust next year’s product.” Read some magazines or books published by Microsofties and you’ll see what I mean. Don Box is playing that same game here: “SOAP was crap. XML Schema was crap. WSDL was crap. But trust us, we know what we’re doing now.” They can’t afford to learn the lesson about premature standardization because they can’t afford to slow the revenue stream (and “thought leadership”) generated by technology churn.Paul Prescod

After using Microsoft products for about seven years, I’m just about burnt out. It was a good ride and it probably made more sense towards the beginning… but it is getting harder and harder to endure each successive turn of the crank.

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5 Responses to “Two Reasons to Look for an Alternative to Microsoft Wherever It’s Feasible”

  1. Mark Miller Says:

    I know exactly what’s being talked about here. When I was first introduced to .Net at a local DevDays presentation back in 2001, I asked a few questions of a developer who worked at Microsoft about improvements that were coming to C++/MFC, since they were talking about the next version of Visual Studio. He didn’t know anything about them. He said he didn’t use MFC, and further didn’t like it. Sometime later I started hearing about how Microsofties were calling MFC and COM “crap”, and touting .Net as an improvement. I didn’t object to this message, because in comparison…MFC and COM did look like crap. I was just kind of struck that they were willing to “crap” all over what they had once created.

    Another thing that struck me as odd was at a presentation at a .Net user group meeting a couple years ago the presenter said he had talked to Don Box, who was working on WCF, about remoting. He said the message they were telling everybody was “Don’t use remoting!” He said he thought this was an extreme position to take, but he understood that Microsoft didn’t want to put out a message that might be too confusing for people. In reality he said it was fine to use remoting, but just don’t create your own custom data communication protocol with it. This was weird since this was one of the features touted in magazines about remoting. The framework allowed you to do it. He said, “That’s what Ford did, and now they’re screwed.” I think he said this because WCF wasn’t going to include this particular feature or something. WCF still has remoting, BTW.

    I think it’s more a function of the programming teams they bring in at Microsoft. They bring in a team to create a new framework, and while they’re ambitious, they not learned experts in the design area. Their stuff works, but it has some design flaws in it. Then another, better, smarter team comes in and creates another framework to fix the design flaws. That’s the way it is in the early-bound world. It’s difficult to scale this stuff. As you can see, Microsoft thinks it’s easier to just start over from scratch.

    The point where I started departing from Microsoft was 1) I started seeing the real limitations of .Net 1.1 and Visual Studio, and 2) their whole strategy was feeling uncoordinated. They used to release stuff together and you knew it would all work together. Then their releases started getting sporadic. For example, at first VS 2005 was incompatible with Vista. This was announced around the time the business edition was released late last year. Gosh, real helpful there. They did finally patch it so it would work, but not until March of this year. You would think that would be a “no-duh!” thing to think of. Then they release .Net Framework 3.0 with limited tool support, and the first release of WPF is milquetoast. It can’t hold a candle to Windows Forms. Then they released their AJAX package for ASP.Net separately. When developers ask “Where’s the tool support for XAML?” The response they got was, “Oh, that’s in the Expression Suite,” which wasn’t going to be included in Universal subscriptions. It’s like Microsoft lost its clue. Lots of developers do double-duty as not only the architects and coders, but also the UI designers. I was thinking, “Do they really expect us to code this stuff by hand??”

    It just didn’t have the coordination that I expected to see from Microsoft. It started looking like a jumble of technologies that developers were expected to just throw together and try to make work. I don’t think I thought of this explicitly, but looking back on it now I figure if that’s the way things are going to be with them I might as well work on an OSS project or something. 🙂

  2. lispy Says:

    Oh yeah. That thing where VB6 would run on Vista but not Visual Studio… that was scary. And the way they drug their feet on the VS 2005 service pack…. There was a lot of stuff I was excited about maybe 3 or 4 years ago and now that its finally coming out I just don’t care anymore.

    You’ve got to wonder how many people are postponing learning about MS’s newest tools so that they can tinker around with more off beat languages.

  3. Mark Miller Says:

    @lispy:

    What you say here reminds me of how I’ve felt about LINQ. I first heard about it two years ago when one of the first test versions was released. I saw a couple people demonstrate it. The first time it looked neat. I really liked the idea of not having to write SQL queries in strings anymore. By the time I saw the second demo last year I had been involved in an ASP.Net project where I could have REALLY used it, especially its ability to filter object sets! Of course it wasn’t release ready yet. It felt as though I was in a fine restaurant, I was really hungry, and I was presented with a dish that smelled wonderful, but I wasn’t allowed to eat it. I really wished it was available for production projects then. No. I’d have to wait another 2 years (Orcas is supposed to be released in 2008). Several months ago I discovered as I was getting myself acquainted with Squeak that Smalltalk has had the ability to do this for decades:

    objectSet select: [:each | each filterCriteria: ‘filter’]

    This is some metaphorical code, but it basically does what I wanted LINQ for. I didn’t have to wait.

    BTW, just FYI. I submitted a comment on your post about Richard Stallman and I didn’t see it show up. Maybe it ended up in your spam filter? It had a lot of links in it.

  4. lispy Says:

    Oh yeah… there it is. Just after the 100 free porn videos. 😉

    I wonder why that comment got eaten…?

  5. Mark Miller Says:

    @lispy:

    It’s happened on my blog, too, for a couple people. That’s why I go through my spam filter from time to time. On rare occasions legitimate comments get caught in there.

    I think what your filter reacted to were the links. I put a ton of them in there. 🙂 I know somewhere in my blog’s settings it says “hold for moderating if comment contains X number of links”, so it kind of judges comments on that basis.

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