Dear Microsoft application developers: Grow up

If you're a Microsoft application developer, either independent or bound to a corporate job, it's time for you to stop complaining and grow up. Windows 8 is here and you'd better get used to it.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor on

A Facebook friend of mine, who'll remain nameless, taunted me a bit after my, "Windows 8 Tablets: The most successful tablets ever." article, saying that, "Our developers hate it." I told him that his developers need to "Grow up" and get with the program (pun possibly intended). There's no need to cling to the previous version of any operating system, although Windows XP is/was the proverbial bomb, it just makes you look like an anachronist, luddite or someone who refuses to change. Either you have to be mature enough change with the times and be flexible or you need to go flip burgers at a fast food restaurant.

It's cute to sit around and bash the latest iteration of some operating system--I mean, just look around and you'll see plenty of media types doing it--even I do it occasionally, but it doesn't change anything except other people's perceptions of you. So, stop it.

All of this Windows 8 bashing reminds me of the stone ages (1995), when Windows 95 first hit the market. Everyone complained about it. A lot of people stuck with Windows 3.x for years. Some of them even turned to Windows NT 3.51 to lengthen their tie to the past. It didn't work then and it won't work now.

At the time when my group (Domain Administrators) converted hundreds of developer and developer support desktop computers to Windows NT 4.0, I heard complaints from every direction during the process. It got old fast. I think, after two straight weeks of conversion complaints, I finally told one particularly annoying developer, "If you don't want to move to Windows NT 4.0 with the rest of the domain, then go find yourself a job where they live in the past. As for the rest of us, we're moving on."

We converted. He, much to my chagrin, stayed and complained more. 

You have to change with the times. You have to download the SDK, dig in and learn to use and work with the new operating system. You can't sit around and lament the good old days. Just shut up and get to work. Or, change careers. No one will likely notice your absence. Your cubicle will be ransacked and scuttled for anything good, your name tag will be tossed into the trash and your curmudgeonly complaints will be the occasional topic of discussion that begins with, "Remember that loser who..."

Sorry to be so harsh but that's reality. Either you change with the times or you do something else. You'll eventually have to grow up enough to make the necessary adjustments to your awesome applications or you'll have to support legacy crap for the next ten years and deal with almost constant break/fix problems.

So, back to my friends' comments on Facebook to me. He wrote, "You seem to be pretty positive about Win8. Have you had the chance to poke around it from a techie standpoint? I have a crew of friends who are heavy app developers (non-enterprise type of stuff); they all hate it. The objective consensus is there is nothing to make companies switch to Win8. The cost (even if the SW is free) and changes to infrastructure are too prohibitive."

My response, "They must suck because Windows 8 isn't that different than Windows 7. The interface shouldn't confuse them. It's still Windows underneath it all. Everyone wants to bash the new OS. It's tradition. Tell them to grow up."

Of course, he took the "Windows 8 isn't that different than Windows 7" thing a bit too literally. I tried to clarify it with the, "It's still Windows underneath it all" statement. But, alas, it was enough to latch onto for a few more comments.

I believe that Windows 8 differs from Windows 7 just a little more than Windows 95 differed from Windows 3.11. Or, NT 4.0 from NT 3.51.

We're not talking quantum leaps here folks. We're talking increments. Underneath the new grill and new taillights*, it's Windows. And, if you're stuck in the past, Microsoft makes it a little easier for you by allowing you to adjust your program to work in Compatibility Mode. You can select your beloved from a list of operating systems dating all the way back to (gasp) Windows 95 and 640x480 screen resolution. Sorry, Windows 3.x user/developers, you should have switched in the span of the past 17+ years.

Only a developer who's been in a coma for the past ten years could wake up and be shocked by what he's seeing. If a UI change is throwing you that much of a curve ball, you should perhaps take up UNIX or open source programming. No, I'm not bashing those, I'm just saying that the UNIX command line hasn't changed and isn't likely to, so for those who like a static environment, that's one alternative--but not a negative one.

I think that anyone who calls himself a professional Windows developer can't deal with a changing operating system substrate should probably make some changes of his own. After all, if things didn't change, improve and evolve, why would we need you anymore? We could just keep using Windows 3.x, MS Office 1.0, Mosaic and Chameleon forever.

Shut up. Grow up. End of story.

What do you think of all the Windows bashing that has gone on for the past 20 years every time there's a new OS release? Talk back and let me know.

*One of my favorite rants from days gone by is that car manufacturers think they're tricking us with "new" models that just have new fangled front grills and a new taillight assembly.

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