Microsoft is Windows biggest enemy

August 4, 2020 | Reading time 3 minutes

Looking at the state of Windows you might think that it’s Microsoft’s least favourite child. That’s my conclusion after using Windows as my main OS for 1 year.

Let me start by saying that Windows has improved a lot with Windows 10. Meanwhile, it seems that Microsoft got tired halfway and you find the evidence in settings. One part of settings is modern in the style of Windows 10 and that works great. Dive a little deeper and it feels like time traveling to the Windows XP era. The design and the way this second layer works is garbage compared to the top layer. It’s like you’re using another operating system.

Developers

Steve Ballmer said it was all about developers. Today, I wonder if Microsoft itself is still interested in Windows. Sounds crazy, but the odds are against them.

Microsoft wants to attract more developers to use Windows as their main development platform. To do so, they added fancy features like WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) and that works pretty good. Seducing developers to the Windows Store is another story.

An empty store

Apple has the same struggle on the Mac App Store as Microsoft does. When you want developers to publish their apps in the Windows Store you, as a platform owner, must lead. That’s why Apple’s own apps are available in the Mac App Store. Microsoft doesn’t even offer Office in the Windows Store. Or Teams (I know it’s part of the Office family).

You can find Office and Teams in the store, but to install them Microsoft sends you to a web page for downloading the apps. That’s crazy. Office is one of their biggest products. It should be in the store if they want to convince developers to publish their apps in the store.

Microsoft didn’t even bother to build a native Windows app for Microsoft Teams. You can argue they did, but it’s an electron app. Why didn’t they go for UWP? Do you remember [UWP]? That’s another developer tool for Windows that Microsoft abandoned.

ARM

The story of the Windows Store also goes for Windows on ARM. In the fall of 2019 Microsoft released the Surface Pro X. A sleek device that runs on an ARM processor. Apple is in the same spot with the Mac. The Mac is transitioning to ARM and to persuade developers to migrate their apps, Apple ensures that all their Mac apps run native on ARM from day one. Microsoft didn’t do that.

Microsoft says they focus on developers and albeit the Surface Pro X is not primarily aimed at developers, they should at least have made Visual Studio Code ready to run on ARM. It’s the most popular editor for web developers. That’s a large group with an above average number of early adopters. And I don’t understand why Microsoft ignored them with the launch of the Surface Pro X.

It gets worse. In January 2020, a few months after the launch of the Surface Pro X, Microsoft released their new Edge browser. And guess what? It wasn’t ready for the Surface Pro X at launch. Can you imagine Apple releasing an ARM Mac without Safari?

Final note

Microsoft should lead by example if they want app developers to take Windows serious. At this point Windows feels like a project that can stick around as long as it pays the bills and that’s a shame.