Windows Reimagined!

New Coke Can

The date is April 23, 1985 and in a move to shake the competition, the Coca-Cola company would change it formula for the first time in 99 years! The goal would be to re-energize its Coca-Cola brand in its largest market at the time the United States. What no-one would envision would be the firestorm of protests from its consumers. The firestorms ended with the return of the of the original formula on July 11, 1985 putting 79 days of agony to an end.

That same year on November 20, 1985, the first version of the Windows operating system would be launched. What no-one would know at the time would be that the product would go on to change the face of computing. Now with Windows 8 officially launched, the stage is set for the battle to begin. The article that follows is my personal view on the subject of Windows 8  I do not work for Microsoft!

Last weeks post was on the Windows Roadmap I talked about how the Windows product line got to Windows 8. Personally however, I must say that Windows 8 is impressive because for the first time, Microsoft will be making hardware. The Surface Drop Test scared and thrilled me but it pointed to a bigger issue. Microsoft is in a street fight!

Someone once said that the four technology superpowers going into the future are Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. The executives at Microsoft  know that going into the future, Microsoft  will have to dent the dominance of the Great 4. This will mean entering into consumer computing. There is the need to understand that Windows 8  devices are targeting tablets. Everyone seems to agree that the next big wave will be in the tablet market.

The Great 4 seem to have an hold already on the tablet market and Microsoft wants its share. How it goes about grabbing a share will make the next 3 years very interesting. To start with, there will be developer events as the year comes to a close. The goal will be to get developers to build applications for the Windows Store.

The Windows Store is where the real story of tablet domination will be told! The total app count is less than 5000! Frankly, for developers around the world, this is where the opportunity will be! With the ease of visibility being higher than in Android and Apple stores, getting into the Windows 8 marketplace is a sure fire strategy to get visibility.

But developers don’t write code only for fame. The cake really is monetization. I am not one of the believers in the advertisement model. I believe more in freemium. That said, developing an application requires time and effort and without a way to compensate the workers, such a task is an exercise in futility.

This has been the experience in the tech space in the last 3 years! In West Africa, being a developer myself, I am yet to meet a fellow developer who has a clear monetization model; we are still searching! That said what seems to happen is that we are like a bunch of hobbyist building good products!

But funds run low and machines need changing! With Windows 8 out, some developers will be thinking of how to get new machines. This brings the issue of monetization close to heart. What I and a few of my fellow developers seemed to do was use the App Stores to gain credibility and popularity. This made us get client jobs but the apps themselves made no money.

So going forward, a lot of developers will be searching for business models to ensure their survival the same way Microsoft developed Windows 8 in order to guarantee its future. Windows 8 is beautiful because for the first time in history, developers in West Africa have the same access as their counterparts in other countries. Access to the Windows Store is for all! Microsoft will be pouring all its resources to make sure Windows 8 is a success. Like Microsoft , the year is 2012 but unlike the Coca-Cola company, there is no going back!

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Windows Roadmap

windows first logo

Hello everyone, next week Windows 8 will be officially launched. Its been a long road getting to this point for the Microsoft team. This week we take a trip down memory lane and look at the history of the operating system.

The Beginning

The very first version of Microsoft Windows was released on November 20, 1985. It was designed to be geared towards graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft created Windows as an extra component for its MS-DOS operating system, and Windows totally changed the landscape for personal computers. The first version of Windows used very simple graphics and it was more of a front end to MS-DOS than a real operating system.

From Windows 3.1 to 32-bit

Almost seven years passed after the first version was introduced before Windows 3.1 was released in March 1992. This 16-bit operating system allowed multitasking – in an environment where users were not used to seeing it. The new version of Windows contained virtual device drivers that could be shared between DOS applications.

Windows 95

Released in August 1995, Windows 95 was a 32-bit operating system that supported pre-emptive multitasking – in other words, the operating system was capable of interrupting a task without any active contribution by the task. Windows 95 no longer was an add-on for MS-DOS, but now represented a full-fledged operating system. A few other Windows versions followed (specifically, Windows 98 and Windows Me), before Windows XP was released in October 2001.

windows 95

Windows XP

With its famous logo shown below, Windows XP became the most popular version of Windows. This success (in terms of its huge installed base) was only partly because of the new user experience (XP stands for “eXPerience”) it offered when it was released. The primary boost to XP’s success was the unpopularity of Windows Vista – its successor.

windows xp

Windows Vista

Released in November 2006, Windows Vista appeared with a brand-new design, and it offered a very improved security – in contrast to XP, which required three service packs to remove its security issues and pains. Although this could have been enough to achieve a greater popularity that its predecessor, Vista required improved hardware as a price for its new features. Most enterprises that had spent a significant part of their IT budget stabilizing XP – after Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) – simply did not deem it reasonable to migrate to Vista. Vista soon became the shortest-living operating system in the Windows family.

Windows-Vista

Windows 7

As Steven Sinofsky (the president of Microsoft’s Windows division) confessed several times, Microsoft had learned its lesson even before it started to design Windows 7, which was released in July 2009, two years and eight months after Vista.

Windows 7 contains significant performance improvements over Windows XP and Vista, including boot time, shutdown time, better task scheduling on multi-core CPUs, search and much more.

Windows 7 definitely provided a successful way to blot out the Vista fiasco. For the Windows team, it would have been easy to follow the direction designated by Windows 7, but the team undertook a most compelling challenge.

The Paradigm Shift of Windows 8

Although Windows was born in an era where personal computer became part of everyday life, it still remained an operating system created with enterprises and information workers in mind.

Apple’s consumer-centric products such as iPhone and iPad showed the world that there was another approach making it possible to interact with computer software in an intuitive way. Microsoft seemed to not understand this approach for a long time, but the sales figures of the market forced the company to shift its focus to consumer-centric devices and operating systems.

Windows 8 start screen

 

So that’s it for this week. Next week I will be featuring Windows 8 exclusively. It is important to pay attention when Microsoft closes rank as it did with the .NET platform. When the next 3 years end, Microsoft will either have won or lost the war!

Using Game Frameworks in Game Development

So here we are again! 10 post left and the year will be over! I have used the IT Value Chain before, but for today’s topic, I think I need to bring it back! In my post on Bringing Ideas to Life I said that there are two options in building games. You could write code from scratch or use a game framework. This post will look at the latter option.

The first place to start when thinking of a game framework is here. This list is by no means exhaustive but it gives a good starting point for anyone interested in game development.

Choosing a Game Framework

The first consideration in choosing a game framework is the team behind it. Frameworks like XNA and Unity3D have a team behind them. Using such a framework means that you are sure of documentation and support. JGame is a very impressive J2ME game framework but since it is the work of one individual, it has not been well documented. I must state that the main problem with open source is adherence to standards. Because the code is given away, there is rarely a way to enforce standard coding practices. As a result of this, in order to use a game framework, the game developer might have to rewrite some portions of the code.

The second consideration in choosing a game framework is the platform you will be developing for. Currently, the platforms for the gaming industry looks like this

Business model

So let me list the platforms: Desktop, Console, Web, Mobile and Facebook. Contrary to media noise, the desktop is still a platform people develop for. Consoles include Nintendo Wii and XBox I remember with nostalgia how the Nintendo Wii made its entry into the market in late 2008. It sold itself! It also helped this book sell! That was the year that Nintendo as a company got back into the game market as a contender.

The mobile space is perhaps where the most noise is made. With Nokia, BlackBerry, Android, iOS and Windows Phone on the scene, the stage is set to see one of the biggest face-off in the years to come.

The Web is steadily making a case with HTML5. Years from now will we wonder how we got by without it! Facebook was where Zynga made fame and fortune for themselves. Sadly the companies fortunes have continued to decline in recent times.

Learning How to Use a Game Framework

There are only three things to consider

  1. Research :- Perform detailed research into the game framework you decide to use. Then make a selection. Once a selection is made, look for documentation and tutorials that will help you get started with the game framework.
  2. Experimentation :- Make “Hello World” examples using the new framework. Create a basic game.
  3. Development :- Take the knowledge you have gained and create your own game. Get a prototype working using programmer art and be satisfied with your game mechanics.

The above form an acronym: RED and this is how any game framework can be used.

Conclusion

So I brought in the IT Value chain for this topic whats the deal? The truth is that finishing a game makes you a Content Producer. To distribute your game, you need to an Aggregator / Host. This can be an app store or a website where people download your game. The developers of the game framework you choose to use are the Access Providers. Advertisers and Users? Well you know who they are.

Programmer Art is important when developing a game. MBA means Mechanics Before Aesthetics. And for me that is the second reason for the IT Value chain. Even though its Aesthetics is poor, it gets the job done!

That’s it on this week’s post. I have given out most of my tricks. But remember this when game frameworks fail, hard coding lives on! If you have experience with any game framework and would like to share, please take out the time to leave a comment.

Straight Talk

Happy new month everyone! This post is my 14th on this blog and my we have indeed come a long way! I look forward to next week when I will be posting the 15th post. From then on, things get interesting as we basically count down to the end of the year.

Been really busy as the year rounds up, I feel it necessary to write straight from my heart. No fluff, no bluff! Since 2011, I have been visible in the tech space and I seem to notice that a year is divided into 4 quarters based on the following criteria:

1st Quarter :-  Wrap up of the previous year

2nd Quarter :- Start of projects

3rd Quarter :- End of 2nd quarter projects

4th Quarter :- Product Launch, competitions and fund raising events

We are now in the 4th quarter of the year. With lots of competitions going round, its hard for programmers to focus. My advice is Focus! Concentrate on a project you want to see succeed regardless of outcome. If you decide to compete, then use that product(s) to compete.

If you say which competitions, then my advice is that you bookmark this link it contains a calendar of all the happenings in the start up space in Nigeria. For other West African countries, I am yet to see any products like this. We did cover Wetin Dey Shele a write up by the programmer himself Oge Nnadi.

Of special interest to me is the Create UNAOC Challenge closing in 54 days! To be exact November 30. I think I might dust off a project on my computer and enter… What for me is interesting is that all apps/games submitted will be featured on their website. Talk about publicity!

The tech space is slowly becoming an arms race. Bootstraps are becoming startups, and startups are growing up to become companies. As this happens, venture capitalist will becoming into the scene. The death of innocence begins! In the next three years, there will be a gold rush. After that winners and losers will emerge. Lead, follow or get out of the way!

Perhaps the most exciting thing in October is the launch of Windows 8. Coming in on Friday 26th of this month, it will be a closing of ranks of the Microsoft Platform. As a standalone product, it will not have a chance in gaining ground but leveraging on the strength of the already existing eco-system, it will go on to do wonders. For the tech space, the next 3 years promise to be really exciting!

Please check out this link for startups its really loaded. If there is one link you click on this post, I will recommend it. I contains a real wealth of information. If you do find the link useful, share!

What a difference the next 3 years will make. On the tech side will be Windows 8. In politics, Nigeria should hopefully have her elections. In football, Brazil should host the world cup. With the coming years there is the need to upgrade your weaponry to deal with the coming waves. Find the funding! Find a lawyer! Develop products for defence!

Most important in all of this is a personal understanding and acceptance of individual realities. There is the need for everyone who wants to remain in the tech space to be sensible. There was a time when you could consider a fellow tech a friend. For me those days are gone. But I do have graphics designers as friends.

Will this trend continue? The answer is yes! Will the good old days ever come back, the answer is no! It is important to remember to be discreet. Everyday, when I wake up, I remind myself that I am not surrounded by my friends! But I am one of the lucky ones. Even though they are not my friends, they are good people.

We are all identified by the company we keep. I have earned the right to do business with people I trust. I believe now more in human greed than goodness. The concept of chivalry is something I was brought up with. But the world I live in is one of avarice.

The gaming space will change. It will be cool to see contenders become champions in this space. The next three years will be the proving ground. I am still standing. When this year ends, I hope I am still standing. History will be made in the next three years.

I sincerely hope this blog is here in that time. I hope we face the onslaught of the coming years and are still standing when it ends. I hope to be able to write the history of this period and chronicle it for those who come after us. History is written by winners!