Game over for Windows ISVs?

Game over for Windows ISVs?

Summary: Some questions to ponder this weekend.When was the last time you found a really exciting, new Windows application, from a start-up or a near start-up?

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TOPICS: Windows
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windows xp logoSome questions to ponder this weekend.

When was the last time you found a really exciting, new Windows application, from a start-up or a near start-up? When was the last time you read about a venture capitalist funding some new Windows software developer?

I read these kinds of releases all the time in the open source space. There's a lot of capital out there looking to support open source applications.

Microsoft itself is doing a lot. They are in the news for Longhorn and new software for mobile devices, for online efforts and new capabilities, even for automotive software, often bringing things to the operating system, such as security, previously found only in third party applications.

But there's a hidden cost to all of this. Each time Windows becomes more capable, some outside software developer's niche is closed. And many folks who were once happy Windows ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) now find that risk may be too much to take.

Metro is today's Exhibit A. It's an XML-based document format that could make Adobe's PDF obsolete. Is there any wonder, then, why Adobe bought Macromedia? The risk of Microsoft taking out ISV niches has to drive consolidation. Size is the only protection. And that protection is limited.

But this is not yet a big risk in the open source world. I can see your hole cards, You can see mine. Transparency keeps the game honest. There's little danger the owner of the space is going to swoop in and steal the hand.

I know many people who read this blog use Windows. Many here like it, they trust it. So I address this question to you.

When was the last time you saw a great new Windows application, from a start-up or small company?

Tell me about it on TalkBack.

Topic: Windows

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30 comments
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  • TimeTTracker

    This is a small program written by a company called r&f consulting Incorporated.

    This time tracking software integrates pvery well with my Pocket PC and allows me to keep track of my time and tasks anywhere I need to go.

    This is a small company, but their attention to detail on this product and their ability to create a product that is very easy to use absolutely blew my mind.

    All they need is to make it more Enterprise ready, and build a few more features into it, mainly reporting and billing abilities and they are ready for primetime.

    The problem I see in Open Source is shoddy workmanship. I have not seen too many applications that are ready to compete in the desktop market for the regular user. The interfaces are too clunky, half of the things people expect to work with do not work as expected.

    Money needs to be pumped into Open Source to make these products fully ready for prime time, in my opinion.
    Hayvern
    • Time Tracker, huh?

      That's great, thanks for telling me about it. Sounds like those folks are doing a very good job.

      That's one.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Time Tracker

      Time Tracker is not exactly new, I remember working with it as far back as 1999.
      mtrotz
  • Who needs ISV's?

    My rep told me Windows ISV's sole purpose is to provide ideas to Microsoft for new applications to be bundled with Windows. Delrina Winfax Pro, firewall products, text editors, and web browsers are all examples of applications that have been produced that Microsoft has used for their own gain. These vendors then go out of business and move on to other capital intensive projects. It is the nature of the software eco-system my rep and I call "the Microsoft system". I just wish MS would buy Red Hat so they could put Linux out of business so me and my MCSE's could rest easier.
    Mike Cox
    • Nobody in IT can rest until jobs come back.

      At least IT workers in America; offshoring seems more commonplace by the week. Doesn't matter if you have enough letters after your name to complete two sets of alphabets, it's about money and the acquisition of.
      HypnoToad
    • my point exactly

      I wrote this post hoping I would have to run an extensive correction. The idea of a Microsoft ecosystem where M$ ends up owning everyone else's property is precisely why so many small software developers are moving to open source.

      I just wonder if buying Red Hat would put anyone else out of business.

      Comments?
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • Huh and double HUH???

        ---"The idea of a Microsoft ecosystem where M$ ends up owning everyone else's property is precisely why so many small software developers are moving to open source."---

        Where do you come up with that? Every programmer I know works in all areas and many different platforms. To suggest anyone is walking away from developing on the Windows platform simply isn't supported by the facts.

        Fact, there are more Windows products rolled out every day than all the others put together for a year.

        Do yourself (and your readers) a service and take a look at how many developers sign up to be an MS partner every day of the week...
        No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Re: my point exactly

        You make a valid point in your piece: Microsoft is eating the market for it's ISVs. This is their general pattern for doing business, it works for them and makes it easier and more convenient for the consumer and end user (if corporate, gov't, etc.) The fact that many smaller software developmet outfits are only niche players (add-ons) is not really all that important.

        Some people forget that the consumer will be happier if they can get a single solution that meets their needs rather than having to look for add-ons. Microsoft is not really to blame for the loss of ISVs, though. All niche players are filling a temporary need until a more permanent solution is available.

        I am not sure if Red Hat could do anything, though. WHat they do (just as SuSE/Novell, Gentoo or any other distrib) does is provide a collection of packages that can be used as components for a given service (mail, web applications/ASPs, etc.) If Red Hat was purchased (being one of the better known names), it would depend on the consumers/businesses to see if they still were meeting their business needs. The same as with any other piece of software or collection of packages (distrib).

        What is happenning just makes those that make their money feeding off of Microsoft via enhancements nervous or puts them out of business if they can not make a good value proposition for whomever is making the purchasing/deployment decisions. This may make the smaller players die off, but others may replace them. They just need a more global vision than what they are used to and need to seek new and uncharted (as yet) markets.
        B.O.F.H.
      • YHBT

        Never run into Mike Cox before, eh DB?
        Yagotta B. Kidding
  • You actually saying that Windows is good!

    You are actually saying that Windows is good for users because they get FREE those otherwise you would pay in other systems!

    I would say this as rather benefit for users.
    Wagadonga
  • Windows for AUTOMOBILES?!?!?!

    I think I'll prefer walking if that happens. Exercise is better and, that old MS/GM comparison joke aside, I don't need such a car stalling when I'm in the middle of the freeway.

    I'm pro-life. Not pro-greed-via-piss-poor-quality-"goods".
    HypnoToad
  • What the heck does MS have to do with it?

    Seems to me Open Source is in just as big if not bigger pickle. Case in point: Red Hat spend 16 months building their newest server offering, it took the open source community a few to copy it and ruin the market for Red Hat.

    Case in point: IBM won't contribute to openoffice because it will be copied and their investment will see zero return in dollars. (There may be a feel good payment but that's all.)

    As far as MS taking good ideas and placing them in Windows, that is to be expected, after all that's the nature of software. If you do something, the copy cats aren't far behind. And that is true in all areas of software regardless of OS or who did it first.

    No, the only way to make it a paying proposition is to get to market, capture the most sales you can, and then move on to the next idea. Hmmm, pretty much like all "manufacturing" the only real difference is the time frame.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • Not the way it used to be

      Back in the 20th century this was not the way the software business worked. Many companies survived many years, and got very big, doing their own things in the Windows space.

      This has changed. That, I submit is a problem
      DanaBlankenhorn
      • But we are talking about computer time here.

        Yes I agree, there was a day when a company created a piece of software and then leaned back to count the profits. Those days are gone regardless of OS or the application.

        Is it a problem? Well according to the open source folks no, all software should be free anyhow and no one should have the right to patent (control) their IP. As I said, Red Hat's recent problem shows just how this happens on both sides of the fence. (Open vs. Proprietary)

        That situation has a downside in that it really puts a ton of pressure on developers in the "rush to market" game because they are fully aware that should they come up a great idea, it's going to be copied in a matter of weeks or even days. Again it has little or nothing to do with MS, it's the entire industry. AMD announces 64-bit desktop CPUs, Intel has them in months. IBM announces Dual core, so does AMD and Intel. Open Source starts talking about XML, MS changes Office to generate and deal with XML. On and on.....

        Simply put, it's the nature of the business. Product life span of software (and hardware) is short, it's easily copied, and just as quickly outpaced by the next "big" improvement or idea.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
      • A final thought...

        The flip side of this is a small developer can ride the "big guys" coat tails by adding to and improving the core applications. There are a ton of people out there making a very nice living building add in's to Office products and these folks couldn't afford to developed an entire office suite themselves. Of course they understand that it's a short lived product if it's a good one because it will be rolled into Office at a later date. The answer is they start working on the next one.

        As an example take a look at one an associate of mine wrote at www.pfcmedia.com
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • this company will not survive long!

          looking at the DNS registration, it only went up on 11-Apr-2005. Since it does add-ons for Powerpoint, it could either be replicated as part of the Powerpoint package (if it meets a general enough need) or be gobbled up by a larger entity and dissapear before the DNS record comes up for renewal (11-Apr-2006).

          Better have a backup plan as this is a fairly dangerous game (add-on to a Microsoft product)!
          B.O.F.H.
          • Not at all...

            Yes he just added ANOTHER web site for ANOTHER new product. And yeah, he hopes to high heaven MS buys him out. (Not they can't gobble it up, he has a couple patents involved.)
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • By the way...

            This fellow has been writing add ins for Office since Office 97 included VBA. And guess what? He has done very, very nicely for himself. Now, how many software packages have you written and placed in the market? Oh, what? None? And you want to claim you know more than he does??? Buwahahahahahahahaaha

            Those that can do, those that can't whine....
            No_Ax_to_Grind
          • So, since you can't you whine?

            Sparkey, doing office add-ons is a short lived market (as the article is pointing out). Granted, one of the markets that I target is only worth about $50 billion, year on year (global), so something like a desktop is hardly interesting to me. Haven't you figured that out yet? All this time I have pointed to things like $2.5 billion in sales (US alone), $4 billion global (and trying to get the US Congress to get out of the way, though they did as of last year). This is small money, and only a fraction of what my target audience spends. anything with desktops does not impress me, sorry.

            Keep laughing, though! You are always a good source for humor. Maybe you will get a clue at some point. As I have said before, I don't itch myself for less than $80,000 a month.
            B.O.F.H.
    • The article is about MS and their ISV's.

      I understand that reading comprehension is not one of your strong points. This is not about either Open Source or IBM, neither are important to this issue (though they appear to be scaring you a lot).

      [i]As far as MS taking good ideas and placing them in Windows, that is to be expected, after all that's the nature of software. If you do something, the copy cats aren't far behind. And that is true in all areas of software regardless of OS or who did it first.[/i]

      What MS is doing, which they have been doing for years (so it is not really news) is taking ideas from small developers and integrating them into WIndows, thus removing the ISV air supply. But we both know that only a complete sucker would partner with Microsoft, right?

      This is only business, does not really justify any of your unrelated tangents and deep fears, though.
      B.O.F.H.