Does Microsoft Stand a Chance?

“Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers!”.  Steve Ballmer’s stage performance was a massive Internet hit and emphasized how important is the developer eco-system for Microsoft.

Why are developers so important? Simply put, An Operating System (Windows, OSX, Linux) is a form of a marketplace, just like eBay. On one side there are developers (the “sellers”), and on the other side are the “buyers”, i.e., customers who buy software. The better the marketplace is (i.e., the higher number of paid transactions), the more sought after it would be and the company enabling the marketplace would generate higher revenues from operating system sales. Because operating systems are not compatible with one another, the history of computing shows that in many cases, the winner takes it all (Where are Novell, Sun, Silicon Graphics and their likes today? Mainly in Silicon Valley history books)

Two phenomena have reshuffled the landscape completely in the last couple of years – the rise of the iPhone (and Android) and the continuous momentum of the open source movement (that was ignited by Linux massive success). Suddenly, Microsoft lost its dominance and stopped being the first choice for developers.

In 2007 I founded Delver. What did we build our company with?

  • Windows workstations and laptops
  • Dedicates server running Microsoft Exchange and Active-Directory (so ridiculously expensive)
  • Microsoft Office and Microsoft Visual Studio – all very expensive products (licenses cost hundreds of dollars per employee, per year)
  • A combination of Unix machines and Windows servers in our production environment (I would estimate 80% of our codebase was vs. 20% Java)

What products are we using in our current startup, Dynamic Yield?

In the office, we use

  • Google Apps for emails, documents and calendar
  • Dropbox for file sharing
  • Highrise for CRM
  • Eclipse code editor (Personally, I am very content with TextMate on my Mac)

In production, we use

  • Dedicated Dual-Xeon linux monsters (hosted in 100tb)
  • Amazon AWS
  • Cotendo (Akamai) as a CDN
  • Our customer-facing application was written in Ruby on Rails (by me! At least initially, I was quickly demoted to a CEO role once Igal arrived)
  • Apache servers (soon to be changed with nginx)
  • MySql database and HBase for our big data needs.
  • Code written in Php, Python, Javascript and Java.

Who is noticeably missing from this list? you guessed it right, the guys from Redmond. And the sad thing? we never even once contemplated using a Microsoft product for any of the tasks we perform, in the office or in our server farms. They are just irrelevant for our work routines, and that’s something Steve Ballmer should be very worried about.

Platform Wars

Epilog: there is one point were we spend a lot of time with Microsoft products – debugging and making sure our front-end code works well in the nightmarish IE 7 and IE 8 browsers.

And finally, because I really like (for real! no cynism) Steve Ballmer, here is a another great clip of his:

3 thoughts on “Does Microsoft Stand a Chance?

  1. Great post. Just one detail: the "developers, developers" video isn't from 2006. Maybe that was the year it became viral. Check the Windows logo behind Mr. Ballmer. Isn't neither the Vista one nor the XP. It's Windows 2000 and the video belongs to the time MS announced.NET (to be released two years after). The "developers, developers" speech was related to MS's effort to make developers' productivity bigger than ever with the.NET framework, getting rid of COM, DLL hell and many other diseases from that epoch.


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