Keep Trying

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Microsoft Needs to Present the Business Case for Rich User Interface Business Apps

Longhorn has been publicly previewed and nobody seems really impressed, not even Microsoft developers.

In a recent post, Tim Bray makes the following point about Richer User Interfaces:

I�ve observed here that both IT admins and end-users prefer browser-based apps to traditional compiled clients, for everything except content creation. Every time, I get emails and incoming pointers from people saying �You just don�t get it, the Web interfaces are so tired, we really need a richer UI paradigm.� The interesting thing is that these reactions are always�every time, without exception�from developers. Not once has an end-user type person written in saying they wished they could have a richer interface like the kind they used to have in compiled desktop apps.

Robert Scoble replies:

Tim Bray makes the case that end users aren't asking for rich client apps. Heh, if you can find an end user that even knows what a rich client app is I'd be suprised. Tim, you're asking the wrong questions.

Now, go back to mom and dad and ask "wouldn't you like a web browser that doesn't erase all that stuff you just entered in on your banking form if you accidentally click on a link?" or "wouldn't you like to watch three videos on a page at once?" or "wouldn't you like to play a new kind of high-performance video game while reading the news?"

How about "wouldn't you like to have rich video and rich animation-based interfaces that don't require downloading yet another plugin?" Or, "hey, look at the new Amazon interface we showed off on stage at the PDC, wouldn't you like to tour through Amazon like that?"

Tim's point was related to businesses, while Robert's answer talked about consumers. Microsoft continues to ignore the business developer world. Take a look at Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. Maybe it makes sense to read (or reread) Covey's original.

In reality, I can't think of another move that Microsoft can make. They will continue to lose business-developer market share in a browser based world. There are too many good and less expensive alternatives. I can't possibly envision a scenario where Longhorn will help woo back business developers. Maybe Microsoft has accepted the reality that they will lose market share in business development - although I don't really believe that.

I would love to hear somebody (maybe Scoble or Joshua Allen) make the cost-justifiable business case to follow Microsoft along the Rich User Client path.