The Peaceable Kingdom

More from Olof at C4.

Curiously, there’s a lot less Microsoft bashing at C4 than there was at WWDC.  Sure, even at WWDC the Microsoft – Apple rivalry has gotten better-natured, but Microsoft used to get much worse treatment among the Mac indie developer community.  It has all changed. 

The surprise guest of C4, a.k.a 14.2% cooler, turns out to be Aaron Hillegass.   One of his slides was a map of the Mac software market, and one of his points was that the traditional Mac space of consumer apps, pro apps and business apps is dominated by Apple and a host of other software giants, including Microsoft.

Then he presented an expanded view of the software market which included areas which aren’t traditional Mac domains — legal, financial, military, government, etc., and he pointed out that indie developers would be well served to look to those domains for big problems to solve, to make a bigger impact in the world, and perhaps also to collect a bigger paycheck.

C4 is mainly an indie developer conference, so this point is particularly interesting for the few of us here from bigger companies.  On the one hand, it means that we are working on and delivering products that are good enough that whetever product niches that exist in our space are small and overcrowded.  But I also get the sense that indie developers see the Mac Office market segment of Personal productivity as a segment that is less dynamic and less cutting-edge than most others.

A compounding issue is that we have a long time between major releases, so we at MacBU have to look far down the road in hopes of being cutting edge when we actually release a product.  I’m awfully envious of some other developers here who can ship releases on a much shorter time scale than MacBU can — it’s easier to be cutting edge when releases go out faster.

But on the flip side, A big company like Microsoft has some resources available to pour into looking into the future and building a part of it. The happy part seems to be that there’s a pretty healthy ecosystem of Mac developers — there are a number of indie developers ready to use their agility to advantage and turn out products quickly, and there are companies willing to invest in big projects like Mac Office.  

And lest everyone forget, we are all users, too.  Plenty of those indie developers are using products from big companies in their businesses, and plenty of us big company developers are using some rockingly cool tools from the indies.  I’ve yet to get a less than fully positive response introducing myself as a Microsoft Employee here, and even better, I’ve had students asking about jobs in MacBU.  Right now the panel is reminiscing about the good old days of MacHack when there was a ‘bash Apple’ session. Signs of the times.

Comments (5)

  1. Wow, this indeed is the day. A MacBU employee talking about Microsoft bashing practice.

    Just a little question: What’s it like to actually work for the company so many people seem to dislike?

    I’ve read a number of posts here from MacBU employees that initially had reservations about working for Microsoft. (Their company was bought by Microsoft for example.) But after a while settling in and getting familiar they all seem to adjust their opinions. How come?

    It seems like every Microsoft I talk to is insainly glad to work there. It’s almost scary. But it does make me wonder why.

  2. What is C4.  What is an indie developer?  I don’t care if I’m showing stupidity or naiveté.  

  3. Olof Hellman says:

    Mario –

    C4 is a mac developers conference:

    Indie is short for ‘independent’, and ‘indie developer’ refers to a small company, often just one person, that develops software.  

  4. nadyne says:

    Jereon – I can’t answer for anyone else, but I can tell you why I like it here.  

    I like it because I have the support to do my job well.  I have great support from my management chain, and from my colleagues in the group.  I work with really smart people who deeply care about making great software.  There’s things that I don’t like, but they’re vastly outweighed by the things that I do like.  

    But then, I think that anyone doing any job at any company should be happy in what they’re doing.  If you don’t like where you are or what you’re doing, it behooves you to do something about it: change companies, change jobs, change something.  Being happy in your job is important.  You don’t have to wrap your whole life in your job, but I think that it’s better for everyone if you at least like your job.

  5. nadyne, I agree completely with you. It’s not only the work itself, but the people around are just as important. Imagine working at a place where you feel everybody is aacting out like a lunatic when it comes to writing code. I’d be out the door in not time running.

    Tnx for your reply. 🙂