I walked around a company, Soasta, today that had nothing but Macintoshes for all of its developers — all used to develop testing systems that’ll run in Web browsers. And this was a startup aimed at Enterprises. Folks who build systems for Salesforce.com. For Oracle. Etc.
The company was full of people who used to do .NET programming (one of whom used to work for Dan Appleman, the guy who wrote the API book for Visual Basic).
This should freak Microsoft out.
Why are they using non-Microsoft tools? One, by using a Mac for development systems they can run Linux, Windows, and OSX on a single box. That saves them money and administration time (they use Paralells for running these different OS’s virtually).
But the Executive Chairman, Ken Gardner, saw that he was more productive when he switched from a Windows machine to a Mac. He also noticed he was more productive when he worked on a 30-inch screen.
Every worker there has TWO 30-inch screens. One at home and one at work. Ken knew his employees would work more if they had nice equipment at home too. So, he bought everyone a MacPro for the office (faster, so gives coders incentive to work in the office) and a MacBookPro for taking home.
The software they are building is brilliant, too.
Why don’t all companies invest in their workers this way? Ken says it gets results. And I can’t argue with what I saw through my camera lens.
Anyway, this all had a point. I got off on this riff cause of Joe Wilcox who laid out yesterday why Microsoft got so big and how it is harming its ecosystem of partners by releasing competing applications. He says that Microsoft is leaving a hole that he thinks Google could fill. There’s only nine months left until Vic Gundotra takes a new job at Google. He did a lot of strategy and developer evangelism work. Clearly Google is building a new kind of ecosystem and is courting developers. They are winning over the startup-style developers and new entrepreneurs to be sure. But, will they get the bread-and-butter developers who used to use Visual Basic?
SOASTA is betting on the Web. If Microsoft doesn’t watch out, they certainly won’t be the last company to switch people from .NET to more Web-centric and open-source development methodologies.
Will Microsoft listen to Joe Wilcox? That’s the question that developers everywhere (and their bosses like Ken Gardner) will watch to see the answer to.
By the way, Ken doesn’t think Microsoft can make the switch.