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09.25.11

Windows Phone 7 Will Die With Silverlight

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Danger sign for Microsoft

Summary: How Silverlight died and why it is highly probable that Microsoft will always fail in the mobile arena

OVER a year ago we explained the connection between Vista Phony 7 (WP7) and Silverlight. That was just before Silverlight died. What’s amazing is that a lot of people forget that the fall of Silverlight is a prelude to the fall of WP7. One loosely depends on the other.

Windows Mobile was a massive failure that cost Microsoft a lot of money before Sidekick and KIN injured Microsoft as well (Microsoft tried to hide those losses). Just like in search, Microsoft keeps swapping brands, always with the same outcome and the same amazing losses.

According to this, Microsoft may have started a disinformation campaign for WP7. To quote Christine: “I can’t swear this item is Microsoft FUD, but it sure smells that way. On Wednesday a writer on CNET’s Microsoft beat reported on a study released by NPD Group. Although the article is never quite clear on exactly what is being studied (unless I missed something – tell me), the point seems to be that lots of potential buyers just can’t wait to get their hands on Windows Phone 7. Again, I could be wrong, but this sounds like the beginning of some sort of Redmond financed campaign to me.”

Since it is based on XAML to an extent, its fate is closely related to that of Silverlight, whose own people say was “destined to fail”. Quoting the new blog post:

Why Silverlight was destined to fail and my time as one of its custodians.

[...]

Death of Silverlight is sad, but at the same time good. Yes I said it, as for years I’ve sat behind this product watching it grow in an amazing ways across the globe. It went from this science project existence that I remember saying it wouldn’t last through tot his highly competitive technology that had both Microsoft and Adobe at each other’s throats over.

The war between Adobe ended though and over time the technology become somewhat a questionable approach to solving a whole bunch of issues within the .NET community.

So how did we arrive at this point? Here’s my mini memoirs of my time at Microsoft and in the Silverlight Product Management / Evangelism space.

It’s a long read, but take some time to stick process it all. I’ve left out a whole heap of juicy crap, simply because it would turn into a novel!!! And you wouldn’t believe me if I wrote it anyway.

The failure of Silverlight will cascade down to other Microsoft products. Vista was supposed to make a lot out of XAML and it failed.

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4 Comments

  1. NotZed said,

    September 26, 2011 at 1:42 am

    Gravatar

    Well, that was a long read. Could use some proof-reading too.

    Although everything he says leads to the conclusion: the technology just isn’t that great either. It really isn’t.

    But I felt most sorry for his wife having to put up with a move to the USA. The food there really does suck, and then there’s the weather and the ugly, loud, and fat loud people, and all the rest.

    twitter Reply:

    Oh wow. Thanks for goading me into reading the TE’s amazing description of death of Silverlight, chaos at Microsoft and a well reasoned prediction of Windows 8 failure. Without your goading, I was content to take Roy’s summary. The story is incredibly damaging, very much worth reading and making a brief summary. I knew people at Microsoft were belligerent idiots but this is amazing commentary on how they select and promote the most rabid fans to mismanage and deceptively push third rate software.

    The Birth of Silverlight:

    let’s get DRUNK!!! … Here I was one afternoon, jet lagged to the max half asleep and trying as desperately as I could to pay attention to WPF talks … I remember bullshitting my answer to something like “yeah nah its sounds all interesting” trying as best I can to maintain a bluff that I was in the know… I then thought, I better get ahead of this product as if there was one chance in hell I can survive in Microsoft it was with a Flash like solution called WPF Everywhere. … I remember sitting in my chair thinking “Microsoft are on crack if they think they can take Flash on with this? I mean what the hell is this? Flash 1.0?”

    Can it get any more toxic? Here we have typical Microsoft behavior and why they do it:

    I’d be constantly in blog / comment skirmishes with Adobe staffers … We’d block each other’s brands from conferences and I’d constantly nip at their every move online to the point where the rage would eventually catch them out.
    I’d find myself on Messenger with an Adobe staffer flaming each other and as they did they’d always give hints or let stuff go on what they were doing. I soon found that baiting them into a fight, often gave me insight into what their moves where and so I’d always get enough information to predict what they’d likely do next. … that’s part of the reason we always managed to stay one step ahead of them when it came to announcements – it’s like we always had a better story at every turn.

    The flip side of this constant harassment of his former Adobe peers is a revolting hero worship and adulation of his new Microsoft drinking buddies.

    Ian-Ellison Taylor, the guy behind a lot of cool ideas in Windows … Dave Mendlen, the GM of the entire group. He was Steve Ballmers former speech writer and was a legend within the company. … walked out to find Brian Goldfarb in the hallway smiling and saying something like “dude, this is so going to be awesome!” … If you thought my ego was big as an Evangelist for Microsoft, you hadn’t seen anything yet. I was about to work with Brad Becker, David Pugmire and Pete Faraday.

    There’s lots more where that came from. So how does an intoxicated, hyper competitive sycophant get the job? With more of the same.

    Time to move into Product Management or get fired. … I went through my interview loop and meet some guys I mostly went out to drinks with, I remember thinking that if this was an interview then Microsoft really need to keep a better abstraction layer in place.

    What kind of sacrifices was he willing to make to be with his heroes?

    My wife had never set foot in the US in her entire life, and here I was dragging her away from a promising career at Ernst & Young to work for $20k USD less than we were earning in Australia (Not including her wage either). … Microsoft fought us on temporary housing, as I said in my contract I wanted 3months housing paid but they only did 2months (not to mention the GPS for the car wasn’t included). I won the fight but yeah, I remember thinking this company is worth billions and we’re haggling over the rental of a GPS? Seriously?

    He then tells us how he and his TE buddies planned, or did’nt plan the development of Silverlight.

    we had no strategy or none that I saw throughout the entire time I was there. It was just a serious of tactical thoughts and mostly large customer or competitive reactions that got the ticket into the release schedules. … in order to sneak a feature onto the list, you have to go black ops. You have to sit with guys like Mike … he quickly showed me his upcoming blog post that he was writing. He wanted to get my thoughts on how it will make Adobe react … its all punch after punch now and these guys aren’t going to see you coming

    Having created something, they used the Olympics to push it on US households.

    the Bejing Olympics. This was a huge win for Silverlight we not only got to show our upcoming video muscles but we also stood a chance of getting our ubiquity numbers up … it had a lot of upgrade issues / matrix of issues to be exact … we had smooth streaming in play for the first time and I remember thinking how awesome it was to watch Australia in the Olympics thanks to Silverlight. As I’m in the US right? So all the TV networks only showed US events not Australian swimming etc – but via Silverlight I got to see it! So I was definitely drinking the kool-aid. … we managed to push Silverlight into over 200-300million homes

    and it sucked and the world hated it and he had no clue.

    I flew in and spend the entire [vacation back home] month talking about Silverlight and Expression Blend 3 and how awesome it was. I had developer after developer walk up to me and just brutally beat the crap out of me verbally for things we as a team weren’t doing right and lastly why and how the release schedule was to aggressive. … I also got slammed on design questions, mainly around how we sucked at engaging designers and lastly how Blend was a horrible product … The things they were asking weren’t radical either, they were the basics and we as teams were so far removed from reality I thought – that it was almost comical

    and nothing was done to fix the problems because they were completely disorganized and depending on their usual strategy of ramming things down people’s throats

    we needed to throw out our ideas around “Business Decision Makers” being the ones who decide to Adopt Silverlight and instead focus on the cubicle developer who makes the decision on behalf of companies (for me I hated the BDM theory

    I was with the teams politics, that we spend more time talking about greatness and less time working on it. That we often are so caught up in our dumbass ivory tower theories that nothing is getting done … Brad kept us all mostly in the dark, because in the end that’s how he managed to get stuff done. As the moment he confided in anyone the ideas would either get stolen or shut down

    he was moved to a different competing team working on the same project and describes them

    I spent the next few weeks writing meeting notes, listening to these clowns grapple onto the notion of how a website is built. I remember thinking “oh my god, not only do they not know anything about websites they don’t even have a strategy at the moment”

    then, a tragedy

    the Azure marketing team had got an agency to do a campaign site, but the agency put the site on Php and Linux server. Brian needed me to fix this and put it over into .NET urgently as it was a favor for a colleague of his. … Three weeks later, Brian calls me into his office and hands me an envelope. I admit, I thought I was being fired as I’m thinking “holy crap, he finally caught me slacking off”.
    It wasn’t my termination papers, it was a $7k USD check with equal share options. I just got handed a Microsoft Gold Star award for my bravery in the line of PHP to ASP fire. … I know of three other guys who worked their asses off daily … who did 10x the work I did, and nothing. Not even a thank you – in fact they got punished for not being team players!

    After more fights and nonsense, he resigned.

    I was wasting my time with Silverlight. I mean, this product had no future and it was clear that this product wasn’t going to have one until someone sat down and thought this product through for more than a fiscal year.
    My wife and I were struggling to keep our marriage intact so it was a case of stick it out with a shitty boss, no strategy for a product I cared for and lose my wife/kids or just go home and start over fresh.

    and he became another form of Microsoft parasite, fixing things that should not be broken in the first place:

    It was like stealing candy from a baby, all I had to do was fix broken Silverlight/WPF projects and it was easy.
    I was now making profit on the stupidity of Microsoft’s inability to teach the masses how they should build projects with their technology. It was a weird thing to experience as not only was I seeing this from enterprise customers of Microsoft, but I was often called in by Microsoft to also help the fix screw-ups they were making internally for both products they were working on or customers they were working for

    He leaks the news that Silverlight is to be replaced with html5 and predicts Windows 8 will flunk the way Silverlight did and for the same reasons.

    Windows 8 launch. … doomed to fail and will eventually just like I knew #WP7 would fail first few rounds with consumers. Reason being? No strategy. There is no strategy here folks, just like Silverlight it’s all tactical reaction

    For the record, NotZed, people in Tacoma/Seattle are not at all like the raging idiots Microsoft imports from around the world. They are not fat and loud, they have some very nice food and are in excellent health. If I had not been curious about the wife’s experiences, I’d have never read that piece. Thanks.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks for these fair use summaries. I must only comment to add that one SilverLie TE was personally harassing me at the time. Jonathan Wong. Microsoft needs to rethink its bullying tactics. It’s no way to sell products. This is another reason why people dislike Microsoft.

    twitter Reply:

    My pleasure, thanks for finding the document. It is a very interesting and personal look at how Microsoft operates. We’ve seen the general, high level planning about control of video formats in Comes documents. We have also seen the TE training manual and their persistent, viscous heckling is impossible to miss. This man’s half remorseful rant stands both as a confession and documentation that Microsoft’s development process is all driven by marketing toward “decision makers” who are expected to run over actual practitioners.

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