I am happy to announce that I am renewed as an MVP for 2014. This time as Client Dev, which is the new MVP expertise resulting from the merger of Silverlight (my previous expertise), Client App Dev and Blend. This is my 8th MVP award in a row.
Last year’s MVP summit in October was one of the best I attended. The level of engagement with the product groups is really better than in the past 3-4 years. We are feeling the effects of the latest reorgs and the (renewed) openness of Microsoft towards developers is really making me happy. The past secrecy, especially in the Windows team, was very unnatural and as a result it is sad to say that quite a few talented developers left, some to go to Google, some to Amazon, but there are still a lot of very talented people at Microsoft, and all are working hard on the convergence of Windows and Windows Phone, on the Cloud, on development tools, etc. You may have noticed that recently Microsoft took official position on Xamarin and is encouraging developers to use them to build cross platform solutions. This is a very good thing for developers, as it facilitates the building of applications with a large quantity of shared code, but it is also good for the users because it allows building higher quality apps than the common hybrid (HTML in a container) solutions allow. Of course it doesn’t mean that we should leave HTML/JS behind, and it is great to see that in this field too, the lessons learned from rich applications is paying off, with the wider usage of frameworks allowing web developers to apply some of the beauty of the binding system and the separation of concerns.
There were a few articles in the press recently about 2013 being a bad year for tech in general (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/12/2013-a-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-year-for-the-tech-industry/282656/) and while I agree some of the things mentioned (notably the arrogance of the tech class, especially the Silicon Valley crowd), I also think that much of it is over-exaggerated sensationalism. What really happened is that 2013 was a year of stabilization of many technologies. Mobile phones have not been revolutionary last year, but they have shown a great deal of new apps and new features that make this technology almost impossible to leave behind after you have been getting used to it. Immersive technologies (Google Glass, Oculus Rift) are evolving from mere prototypes to something that developers can actually start to use and create with. Yes Glass and Rift are not there yet, and I have my doubts about these devices ever becoming mainstream, but what is important is that they exist, and that there is a motivation for developers to explore new platforms and new experiences. What used to be alternative input mechanisms (such as multitouch, Kinect, VUI) has evolved to become mainstream now (a laptop without touch is a broken laptop). XBOX has evolved from a pure gaming platform to a powerful multimedia platform sitting in the living room. New form factors for laptops, slates and phones are allowing these devices to converge and merge, and it is hard to tell now if a Surface Pro is a tablet or a laptop (both), or if a Lumia 1520 or a Galaxy Note 3 is a large phone or a small tablet. Just like it is hard to tell if a Lumia 1020 is a camera that can be used as a phone, or a phone with an amazing camera on it.
More importantly, the technology that allows us to develop for these machines is stabilizing too. In the past year we have been very active with Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8 which were not revolutionary changes, but a welcomed evolution. I think this trend will continue in 2014, and personally I am very happy about it. This allows us to build on top of what we know, instead of throwing away what we learned, and starting new. As much as I love adopting new revolutionary technologies and experimenting with them, it is great to have a time of less experimentation and more building and architecting.
Finally, I want to thank all of you guys out there who reach out with questions, feedback or even just a few nice words. You keep me rolling. Even if sometimes I am slow in answering your messages, even if sometimes I just don’t have the time to answer at all (and believe me I hate that), your messages always give me the energy I need to keep going. It is a fantastic community and I am blessed and proud to be a part of it.