Windows

Developers snub Windows Vista

A recent report from Evans Data shows fewer than one in 10 software developers are writing applications for Windows Vista this year.

In a CNET News.com article, Matt Asay writes, "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." For more details, read the entire article: Vista's big problem: 92 percent of developers ignoring it.

Do these stats reflect what's happening in your shop? If you're holding off on writing apps for Vista, what are your primary reasons?

About

Mary Weilage is a Senior Editor for CBS Interactive. She has worked for TechRepublic since 1999.

23 comments
Justin James
Justin James

I still haven't figured out what the original means by "developing for Vista". If they mean, "writing something using Vista-only technologies" then even 8% is a miracle. If they mean, "trying hard to ensure that the code runs under as well Vista as it does under XP", then yes, it *is* a bit low. Also, what's the sample? All developers? Or just Windows desktop app developers? Big difference. All developers, 8% is not too bad, given the number of developers who work on server apps now anyways. Just Windows desktop developers, 8% is sad. J.Ja

adam.howard500
adam.howard500

I'd have taken the phrase "devloping for Vista" to mean "writing code that specifically takes advantages of the features offered in Vista". And my answer would have been to say "no, I'm not 'developing for Vista'". The ultimate reason is simple -- the stuff I work on doesn't require any Vista features. I've worked on a lot of web-based apps; in which case the browser is far more important than the OS. The work I've done for other types of applications ranged from nightly-batch-type applications run on the server with little or no UI to database-type applications. As it turns out, there is little need for Vista features in those apps. And frankly, I think that these type apps probably make up the vast majority of the software market. Oh, sure, if you wanted to chart your data and you had your own graphics engine, it might (maybe) be nice to use the Vista graphics. But let's face it -- all you really need to do for graphing data is to interface with Excel, export the data and have Exel create the graph. This can be done via Excel VBA, and it works regardless of OS (at least as long as Excel works on the OS). Even if someone were to write something Vista-specific, they'd have to maintain the old version as well so that non-Vista users could still work. That means double the maintenance, which, in this case, probably means three times the cost. I say three times the cost because you'll either have to spend a fair amount of time discussing how to make future updates work the same way for the users in both versions or you'll have to create and maintain different versions of documentation plus spend a lot of time explaining why it works differently for Vista users. Not to mention the support calls that come in where an XP user is trying to install the Vista-only version and wondering why it doesn't work. So, the most economical thing to do is write the code in such a way that it works in as many versions of Windows as possible -- LCD (Least Common Denominator) principle in full effect.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The Search feature you could see some mileage in adding in to various types of application. But. How many of your customers have upgraded, can it degrade gracefully. How many different tests, installs etc do you have to do to offer OS version specific extras ? At what sort of rate are they migrating? It's a no brainer at the moment. Now making your XP (or earlier) application play nice with Vista e.g. UAC, well that's a different story, because that is be backwards compitible.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I can think of a few uses, but I've got too many windows versions, DBMS and network topolgies to be compliant with. We managed to get NT4 off the list and along comes Vista :(

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I've also had some strange rendering issues with skins. JIT also tends to do some wonky things on Vista that it just doesn't do in XP, Win2k3, or Win2k (even though it's all .Net 3.0). Does MSMQ work for you in Vista? I've had never ending headaches....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It has some very strange effects on the message pumps. In fact pre XP, XP and Vista all have subtle differences in the way their message producers and consumers work. You can get some really annoying artifacts in one but not the other, fix it and cause a problem somewhere else.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Don't forget some of the Windows Foo has changed, so you have to include XP cruft as well as Vista (if you need it). I'm looking at you DCOM!!

swstephe
swstephe

It seems that "developing for Vista" meant "specifically targeting Vista for new applications". Which sounds like they are only surveying commercial software developers and limiting the question to popular desktop operating systems. It makes sense, as Windows XP still has a 70% market share -- despite Microsoft's plans to retire support for it very soon.

Justin James
Justin James

... the 8% number is surprisingly HIGH. I know that I would never sign off on a project that won't work on XP, at least not for the next few years. J.Ja

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

No commercial advantage in doing so.... Well some of us have made a start , but it's been on minimums, with the odd take advantage of this bit. But we can't afford Vista only code, ROI would be crap.

apoloduvalis
apoloduvalis

I think most new apps and Windows developers are .NET-oriented, and this should mean platform neutral development but... I had to make a lot of effort to make my .NET app compatible with Vista, but it only means I implemented workarounds for most installation issues in Vista. I just can't affort to waste valuable time and effort in taking advantage of new features of Vista, at least until the serious performance issues be addressed (most of my users are simply reinstalling XP because despite of their new powerful machines Vista looks too slow) in a future service pack or Windows 7.

read
read

Our application is finally becoming Vista friendly. This isn't exactly development I guess, more like maintenance. Windows is our only current platform, so we have to go to Vista -- we just stalled long enough for our clients to tell us they are really moving to it. We'll be supporting XP and 2000 for as long as MS does (our policy).

ted
ted

I would think the vast majority of developers are writing applications for "Windows" - not XP or Vista. The biggest advantage of Windows is an enormous user base. We write apps that are used on XP, Vista, NT (several versions), and even Windows 98. Why would anyone write apps "for Vista" or "for XP"? We do all our development in Vista as regular users - it makes us clean up our act and "eat our own dogfood". Took a bit of work at first, but now it's a non-issue. I really don't understand the debate over Vista. The security stuff is more difficult, but much needed. So get over it and get on with life (and more secure apps).

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

like patches breaking client side cursors. APIs that swallow divByZero in vista but not XP. Subtle different windows message optimisations. And strangely one of the real head scratchers the "not responding" stuff, our BAs and UI guys did not like that at all. :p I agree it's not a major technical problem, but we are the the people who do the technical stuff. The bean counters see Vista take up bad, have to buy new hardware, you old stuff will have to be rewritten, blah blah blah No rush...... Developers snub vista my arse, businesses snub vista is way nearer the truth.

itpro_z
itpro_z

Assuming that the "developers" listed in this article are following the rules set forth when Win98 came out, any programs they write should work fine with Vista. XP still rules with its large installed base, and will do so for the next few years, but any reasonably well designed programs written for XP should also work on Vista. Is is too much to ask for a tech site to avoid sensationalism and instead concentrate on technical articles?

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Vista has a lot going against it for devs. The first, and for most, is UAC. It also has changed some API foo and created some interesting issues because MS decided to include a number of undocumented features with it.

itpro_z
itpro_z

Why would UAC be a problem for your software, unless you are violating basic security principles with your apps? Once I set up a system for my users, they will rarely see UAC. Are your programs modifying system settings or the registry? Trying to copy or write data to secure locations? Why would "undocumented features" even be an issue? I have many old apps running under Vista with no issues, but have certainly had to deal with some ill-behaved apps that will not. Those that don't work violate basic rules that Microsoft has had in place since the Win9X days. Write better code and it won't matter whether your users are running Vista or XP.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

and badly. Undocumented features are a problem, because they are well, undocumented. So what were secure locations in windows 98 ? The only one I was aware of was the safe I kept CD for when I needed to reinstall the OS again. The fault of those networking fellows not following basic procedures, probably.....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I'm working on stuff written to work under DOS. Nothing to do with "Developers", the only good reason a business will invest in 'upgrading' it's products is it has to. So boss we need need to make the product Vista compatible. Why ? So itpro_Z won't call me "Tony Hopkinson" ffs... MS' contuinual changing of the 'rules' and regular successes at breaking them themselves, mean no business in it's right mind is going to write it's stuff with the new rules. This has become a habit since 95....

itpro_z
itpro_z

We have tested Vista extensively and are using it for all new installs in our organization. What we found is that except for a few ill-behaved programs most programs run just fine under Vista, and, yes, that even includes some DOS applications. Those programs that don't work, or require administrator privileges, violate fundamental security policies that have been discouraged by Microsoft since the Win98 days. Perhaps that is what all of the moaning has been about, that programmers are now having to clean up their act and write better code. Well, from my point of view, it is about time.

read
read

"we polish the turd, spray it with a bit of deoderant and hand it over to sales again" That sums it so perfectly up my friend. Well written.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

Since you are wrong on all technical counts. What security was offered in Win9x and was encouraged by MS? Please explain the fundamental security policies that Win9x gave us. While we're at it, why not explain how "better" code will make applications work on the Vista platform.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

We aren't allowed to clean up our act. We aren't allowed to do things right even with the guiding help of Sir Bill. We do what we are told, we polish the turd, spray it with a bit of deoderant and hand it over to sales again. MS's so called security and design model, changed in 95, 98, NT3.51, NT4, 2K XP and now Vista. Until Vista, it didn't matter. It isn't developers fault the new ways didn't take off, it's the people who pay them to keep the old stuff going, and MS making it easy to do it, which has been their business model since 95. Take the blinkers off, not even MS have done what you intimate we have been too 'lazy' to do. I bet there is still 98 code in Vista, certainly there's a shed load of XP. Have you any idea how expensive a major software rewrite is, not to mention risky and potentially disruptive. The apps I'm working are fully vista compatible, I'm well aware of what the differences are, and in many cases they are far from trivial. Don't try and teach grandpa to suck eggs.

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