Lessons in Developer Relations

Recently both Google and Microsoft have made blunders in dealing with their developers, but they’ve responded back to developers in completely different and telling ways.

Google decided that it was going to turn off it’s translation api, but after a lot of outcry from developers they decided to make the translation api into a paid service. While taking a free api and making it paid may not make everyone happy it does give developers an option to stay with the service and more importantly it is a response to concerns that developers have had.

Microsoft on the other hand has done things completely different. They had a demo video of Windows 8 that made mention of javascript has the language to use, but didn’t mention silverlight or .net at all. This combined with comments that were made earlier this year has caused a lot of people to wonder if silverlight and wpf will no longer be supported. Initially I saw this as an honest mistake on Microsoft’s part, it looked like some marketing people just forgot to mention either one in the video. But instead of responding to the concerns of developers with some sort of response, they’ve taken the no comment route and said that they will announce everything in September at the Build conference. Which has steadily made the problem worse and worse.

I have no idea whether Microsoft is getting rid of Silverlight or WPF, but right now there are a lot of rumors going around that are basically just guesses on what Microsoft may or may not be doing. And the longer that Microsoft says nothing the worse these rumors will get. Now when Microsoft finally does make their announcement will they be answering questions about developing for Windows 8 or will they be answering questions on these rumors?? My money is on the rumors. If Microsoft doesn’t do their damage control now, they’ll end up doing it at the announcement in September.

I’m also not a Silverlight or WPF programmer, although I do code in ASP.NET where I currently work, but if I was I wouldn’t be very happy with Microsoft right now. They’ve been told for years now that Silverlight/WPF was the way to go if you wanted to program for Windows and now they’re basically being ignored. If you were a Silverlight or WPF programmer right now and Microsoft told you that javascript was the way to go in the futire, would you listen to them?? Or would you think twice before jumping into anything new from Microsoft?? Microsoft might be jeopardizing it’s standing in the developement community over this.

So, in short Google had a problem with developers which it addressed and dealt with. Microsoft has a problem which it has ignored and looks like its festering into an even bigger issue on down the road. Microsoft may want to learn from Google and start treating it’s developers like someone they want to work with.

Mike GriffithLessons in Developer Relations