Sunday, June 20, 2004

Joel, MS, and APIs Oh My!

Joel on Software really stirred up a hornets nest with his How Microsoft lost the API war article. Scoble as usual has done a commendable job linking to some of the best response commentaries here. The problem I always run into when pitching rich .NET client apps to customers is the fact that the .NET runtime is only built into one shipping version of Windows, Windows Server 2003, which doesn't do a thing for client machines. When I explain to customers that in addition to deploying our app we have to deploy the Framework, it is always a major stumbling block. If we require the Framework on the client, are we then as the developers guarenteeing that installing this will not break anything else in Windows or the users apps? That is certainly the implication since MS hasn't figured out a way to get it on to every Windows release supported on the Framework, true or not. I know, how can MS entice users to get these bits installed? A sticky situation, but if they wanted to rejuvenate "rich" apps vs. "reach" apps, here is my proposal. .NET runs on everything from Win 98 up (Redistributable requirements here). Spend some of that $56 billion cash horde and produce one more service pack for everything Win 98 and higher, roll in all current security fixes and backport at a minimum the Windows Firewall from XP SP2, and distribute the .NET runtime with the package. Take a page out of the AOL playbook and carpetbomb the world with these CDs. You solve 2 problems: Trojan attack vectors drastically reduced, and .NET for brand new rich client API on a large portion of Windows machines. Is this feasible from a business standpoint? Don't know, but if anyone can do this, MS can.