Vista's big problem: 92 percent of developers ignoring it

The OS certainly isn't helping Microsoft's popularity with developers. Can it repair the problem?

And to think Microsoft used to be popular with the developer crowd...

Not anymore. A recent report from Evans Data shows fewer than one in 10 software developers writing applications for Windows Vista this year. Eight percent. This is perhaps made even worse by the corresponding data that shows 49 percent of developers writing applications for Windows XP.

Such appreciation for history is not likely to warm the cockles of Microsoft's heart, especially when Linux is getting lots of love from developers (13 percent writing apps for it this year and 15.5 percent in 2009). The Mac? I don't have any equivalent data via Evans Data. But the Mac OS has rocketed by 380 percent as a targeted development platform, Evans Data told Computerworld.

The numbers don't get much better for Vista in 2009: 24 percent (compared with 29 percent for XP). That's a big step up from 8 percent, but is it a sign of momentum to come or just a temporary stopgap while developers wait until Windows 7?

Nor has Microsoft made it easy to develop Vista applications, according to an article in ITJungle.com:

Unfortunately, that improved security posture makes it more difficult for developers to write applications for Vista (read: no more kernel-level access and UAC to worry about), and it also causes compatibility problems with older applications. Ironically, the wave of attacks targeting operating system vulnerabilities has largely passed, and today hackers have moved on to target applications. At the same time, Microsoft has provided iterative improvements in Windows XP security, bolstering its status as "good enough" and further eating into Vista's pie.

Indeed. Microsoft doesn't need to handicap itself on the desktop given its difficulties competing everywhere else. With Linux and the Mac taking ever-increasing shares of the developer pie, Microsoft would do well to shore up developer support for Windows.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, that probably means re-investing in XP and forgetting its "New Coke" moment with Vista .

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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