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Category Archives: Competitive

I spent the last couple of days at the Future of Web Apps conference in London – it was an interesting experience, as 12 months ago I was presenting on the main stage talking about Flex as an Adobe employee. Fast forward a year and this time I was on the Microsoft stand talking to designers and developers about Expression Studio, ‘WPF/E’ and WPF. A lot can happen in a year 🙂

I was actually quite surprised by the number of people who picked up on this and started a conversation with “Weren’t you presenting last year on Flex…?”.

This of course leads to a discussion as to why I left Adobe and what attracted me to Microsoft – thought I’d share that here.

The software industry is a small world and it’s not uncommon for people to move between the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Google and Apple – for example, Forest Key and Brad Becker are both ex-Macromedia and now at Microsoft leading on the UX/design platform, whereas Mark Anders is ex-Microsoft and now at Adobe, focusing on Flex/Apollo. Sometimes an interesting opportunity presents itself at the right time and for both personal and professional reasons it makes sense.

Microsoft was a really interesting proposition for a number of reasons – I was really impressed by the amount of effort and innovation that is being put into the tools and technologies that are focused on improving user experience, excited by the opportunity to help contribute to the success of a completely new area for Microsoft and ready for the challenge that comes from working in a new environment, with new technologies and new people.

From a technical perspective there were a number of similarities between the work I was doing at Adobe and the areas that Microsoft are focusing on – using XML to define user interfaces, using designer and developer tools to create online experiences, integrating rich media content and building the next generation of Rich Internet Applications. Whilst Microsoft may be late to the party in terms of design (Adobe has been doing this for 20 years), it does provide the opportunity to start afresh and create tools that really focus on the designer/developer workflows that are required to deliver increasingly complex RIAs and desktop applications.

Another area of interest for me was the investments that Microsoft make in their partner programmes and the resources required to enable both Microsoft and partners to be successful – I now have the opportunity to work directly with web/design/creative agencies here in the UK; not only to introduce Microsoft’s design and development tools (and thus influence future web & desktop experiences), but also to help Microsoft understand how best to support designers and creative agencies in the future.

Bottom line: Adobe are doing great things, Microsoft are doing great things – competition is good for everyone and hopefully the resulting tools and platforms that designers and developers use will enable the next generation of web and desktop experiences to be richer and more engaging than ever before.

Posted by: Andrew Shorten