Cisco and Microsoft Battle Over Web Conferencing
The battle between network giant Cisco and software colossus Microsoft over
video and Web conferencing has been brewing for a while. Last fall, for instance,
Microsoft announced plans to build a mobile video conferencing device. That
same week Cisco jumped in, announcing a product that increases the frame rates
of Web video so we won't get a headache watching herky-jerky video.
Now Cisco is really getting serious, vastly overpaying for the privilege
of owning WebEx, which competes with Microsoft's Live Meeting.
WebEx made less than $50 million in profit last year, but somehow the math
whizzes at Cisco reckon the company is worth north of $3 billion.
That's, what, 60 times earnings? I hope WebEx has some hot stuff in its labs!
Which do you like better, WebEx or Live Meeting? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Windows Apps Builders Get a New Tool
Microsoft is close
to shipping Expression Blend, a tool to help developers more easily design
and build Vista and XP applications. The software works with Visual Studio.
By the way, did I tell you that my group now owns Visual Studio Magazine?
Take a look at it here
and don't be afraid to bookmark this puppy.
And if you're a software developer, or just like to tinker, check out our new
Web site and twice-monthly magazine Redmond
Developer News. Don't be afraid to bookmark this bad boy, too.
IBM Reaches Out to 5.7 Million Developers
I never thought of IBM as a leading company for developers. Sure, it has all
the Cobol code-monkeys pretty well sewn up, but it doesn't have the footprint
of a Microsoft, Borland or Sun.
Yet somehow, IBM managed to get 5.7 million people to register for its developerWorks
Web site, which it revamped last week. The new news is Developers Exchange,
a set of areas where coders can share code and programmers can share programs.
We're looking to add some of these features to Web sites for Redmond
Developer News and Visual Studio Magazine.
Is this a good idea? And if so, how should we do it? Let me know at email@example.com.
Doug's Mailbag: FoxPro, We Hardly Knew You; More
Microsoft announced last week that Visual
FoxPro 9 will be the last of the database developer tool. Not surprisingly,
the news didn't go over very well with some readers:
A few comments about the Visual FoxPro notes the past week or so: VFP
9.0 was released in 2005, so the upcoming 'release' of SP2 and Sedna will
be the final bits shipped by Microsoft. Until now, Microsoft has made no public
statement as to whether Sedna would be released as VFP 10.0 or, as it turns
out, as a free download and final update to VFP 9.
As a former beta tester for Microsoft on VFP and a longtime developer and
past president of a formerly large Fox user group, my opinion is that most
of the angst by VFP developers over its demise is not because its adherents
cannot or will not learn the language du jour (C# or VB.NET); rather it's
simply the fact that writing data-centric applications in .NET, even for an
experienced .NET developer, takes considerably more code and more time than
it would if done in Visual FoxPro. This fact has been conveyed loudly and
clearly for years by Microsoft Visual FoxPro MVPs, among others. Were it not
for the obvious loss of developer productivity when switching from VFP to
.NET, Visual FoxPro would likely have been axed years ago by Microsoft.
Microsoft has responded to the productivity gap in recent years with improvements
to the .NET framework and Visual Studio languages, but its efforts have fallen
short. .NET was apparently designed by C++ and VB developers to answer the
threat of Java, to be easier and more productive than C++, and technically
superior to VB 6. To that end, I believe .NET is a resounding success. But
Visual FoxPro developers already had a far more productive language and IDE
than Java, C++ or VB6 developers. For us, Microsoft's .NET is a lower-level
language with far more depth and capability than VFP, but which is frustratingly
inefficient at the tasks so common in data-centric and rich-client application
development. To developers, productivity is king, and FoxPro users hate being
told to give it up. Have you noticed what little talk of Rapid Application
Development (RAD) there is these days out of Redmond? I am faced with breaking
the news to my customers that the cost to build applications just went up
because I'm having to use the latest product from Microsoft, and it's more
tedious and time consuming to use than the one it replaced. My customers think
I'm nuts. They don't understand Microsoft's ulterior motives.
There are two sides to every set of facts, and having worked daily in .NET
for many months now, I know quite a few pros and cons to the two languages.
My feeling is that by discontinuing all languages except .NET-based dialects,
Microsoft is essentially telling SMBs that custom developed software is now
out of their reach, and they should run their businesses using packaged software
and SaaS. Custom development is for the Fortune 5000 set. It would be like
Ford Motor Company discontinuing all vehicles except the F-150 pickup trucks
(bye bye, Mustang) and telling all customers that regardless of their needs
or budgets, an F-150 is the best tool for the job. They ought to know -- after
all, they ARE Ford Motor Company.
I'd like to thank you for your "FoxPro
Please read this
article -- this is the latest MSFT news about VFP's future. They are still
killing us. The Russian VFP community at http://www.foxclub.ru
is going to write a letter about our deep mourning concerning this latest
news. Please, ask MSFT why they are doing this.
And last week, in the wake of Microsoft's acquisition
of voice recognition vendor Tellme, I asked readers if the built-in voice
recognition feature in Office was any good. Here's one reader's less-than-enthusiastic
A five-year XP Pro annoyance: If you install a Dell computer without
using an image, the language bar is automatically enabled, along with voice
recognition. It has been a pain over the years to always have to turn those
Once in a while, we forgot to turn it off and after a new computer was
deployed in the warehouse, we would get the help desk ticket, "I was
typing and suddenly my computer started typing wildly and uncontrollably!"
(because a forklift was driving by behind the
person at the computer).
Here's your chance to sound off! Comment below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.