Future Of the .NET Stack from a Developers Point of View

So I have been to two presentations about the future of the .NET stack: Rocky’s Llocka’s presentation to the TRINUG’s main meeting and Billy Hollis’s sales pitch presentation at Tech Ed in NOLA last week.  I have also read some of the articles about the demise of the PC in Barron’s and in Wired.

A couple of themes have been to be emerging that I have framed my decisions about technology:

1) Moore’s law is dead – PC sales are slowing not because of other device sales but because the hardware capabilities of the average PC does not need to change.

2) The PC doesn’t need to change because the apps that once drove hardware upgrades (games, etc…) are not being written.  Instead the software development is focusing on writing lighter-weight clients.  I wonder how many copies of Windows Doom sold?  I still am waiting for the game that takes advantage of my 3 monitor (Front, Side, Side) setup – could you imagine Starcraft across 3 27” monitors?

3) As a company, I own my device.  I own the operating system on the device.  I write my own software to run on that device.  I can’t side-load it?  WTF? MSFT is about enterprise computing and needs to stop this nonsense ASAP.  Stop trying to be the third horse in a two-horse race.  And in a related idea:

4) My 2 favorite quotes from Rocky and Billy about the iPAD:

“Window’s biggest competitor is not the iPAD.  It is the browser” (RL)

“My grandmother loves her iPad.  I am sure she does.  Your 2 year old likes her speak and spell too.  Neither of them have any work to do” (BH)

4B) The tablet is not made for the business – it is made for consumers.  Business leaders that use iPads probably manage people – it is very hard to do any other kind of work on it.  Apple could pivot and drive towards business (they have the $$ and smarts to do it) but it would be a very long and hard road to follow.  And they probably wouldn’t get 50% margin selling to large companies.

5) Rocky thinks BYOD is nonsense and will not stick.  Billy and the rest of the popular press thinks it is a very real change.  I don’t know.  On one hand, I agree it is impossible to do any kind of analytical work or manage multiple systems and process with that kind of screen real estate, keyboard, and processing power.  However, if you only manage people so all you need is email, Lync and don’t need to print anything, then you can get away with using a tablet as your primary machine.  I wonder if managers/executives that only use a tablet are less recession-proof than managers/executives that have a more analytical/process skill set?  Perhaps in the next recession, the BYOD will mean “Bullseye For Downsizing.”   In any event, I am skeptical that BYOD will stick – but it still has some time to become more popular before the coolness wears off.

6)  Business software developers can still get away with writing crappy UIs for the business.  They don’t need to out form factor consumer-facing apps.  However, they need to have UIs that are device-intelligent to accomplish the business task at hand.

7) Every speaker/article is making a big deal about how our industry is going a seismic, once every generation change.  If you have been doing this for a bit, it is just par for the course.

8) My own non-empirical observation is that we are seeing the high-water mark of BSCS students.  Kids that I have watched grow up in my neighborhood are going to college to get a BSCS.  Kids of business associates are getting their BSCS. Kids that don’t like writing computer code are getting a BSCS.

I guess every article that shows the salary of a BA major versus a BS major pushes more kids into our field.  When I ask them why they want the BSCS, it is pretty much the same “I want the money.”  I feel bad because on a per hour, the average software dev starting out is lower than that clerk at Starbucks that has a BA in History (that is the typical story I hear).  Not only that, that clerk might have other, larger dreams and enjoys what s/he does.  If the BSCS kid is in our profession for the money, they are going to be disappointed – very quickly. 

On the flip side, more junior developers means more code the be refactored later, which is a boon to consultants and people who have been in the business for awhile.

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