Paul Makepeace ;-)

April 11, 2005

No .NET mobile development for hobbyists

Posted in: Tech

Microsoft provide their Visual Studio IDE at a variety of price-points, ranging from the cheapest being their "Express" version to "Team Studio", the all-new designator for "Enterprise". The latest soon-to-be-released Visual Studio 2005 has a feature comparison chart for prospective customers. One notable, and IMO disappointing, missing feature is mobile device development from their Express version.

Why might this be a mistake?

The Open Source aka Free software movement has been wildly successful in part due to the zero financial cost of entry and pervasive free development tools. You can get the compiler, editor, everything for no cost. What this means is that a 14yr old can learn PHP and start writing dynamic webpages. (The die-hard software purists might not consider this a feature ;-)). The enormous volume of software at the open source clearing house freshmeat is testimony to the ease with which free software can be developed.

Currently there is a roiling battle over which operating system is installed on your mobile phone. Reading the offers of free accommodation, parties, saunas and all manner of temptations coming out of the development houses it's hard not to recall the crazy buzz of the Web last century. The significant players right now are Symbian, Nokia, and .NET. .NET isn't yet on that many phones but given that the Microsoft gorilla is behind .NET they need to be taken seriously.

So why not put free or extremely low-cost development kits in the hands of even the most vaguely interested coder or potential coder and provide them the opportunity to experiment, build, deploy phone applications, and ultimately become seasoned developers driving adoption of a particular platform. Once they're hooked the likelihood of then developing say a Symbian app which would require substantial relearning would drop dramatically.

Microsoft even follows this logic by offering their MSDN development license to small software vendors for very low cost presumably as a hook into One Microsoft Way. The logical conclusion at least for now when the battleground is still so changeable is to offer free dev kits for phone experimenters?

It is possible to get a free SDK for phones but it's not the IDE, and IDEs for languages like C# make a big difference.

Posted by Paul Makepeace at April 11, 2005 16:45 | TrackBack
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