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This article was published on April 6, 2012

This week at Microsoft: App dev, Internet Explorer, and Nokia

This week at Microsoft: App dev, Internet Explorer, and Nokia
Alex Wilhelm
Story by

Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

Just like the proverbial cockroach after the nuclear holocaust, so too does this post live on. Never, while I call TNW my good ship, shall our Microsoft roundup leave you. Unless I get excessively bored of it. But for now, onward.

As always, for our full pull of Microsoft stories, hit up the archives. We can’t fit it all in here, and couldn’t even if we wanted to. Also, be sure that you are following TNW Microsoft on Twitter, and Facebook. Alright, now let’s hop into the news.

Building Apps

Alright, so you want to build an app. Where do you start? I wanted to find out, so I dove headfirst into the pond, and tried to build things for Windows Phone. Why Windows Phone? It’s what I use on a daily basis, and Microsoft has a decent program for students (I don’t technically graduate until June). So, in I went.

Ha. It was a catastrophe. I’m as talented a developer as you are a writer. Kidding, I’m worse. My two-part series chronicling my pathetic failures was a bit funny, but not much more. Just for a taste, here are some samples from day one:

The modern-day gold rush is apps. Apps for this, apps for that. Apps for everything. Apps for apps, even. Everyone wants an app. If you are not a developer, as your humble servant isn’t, these apps are somewhat mystical, as are the tools that are used to build them. What’s a XAML?

After some experimentation, here’s my day one conclusion: this stuff isn’t simple, and when you don’t understand something, or can’t find a command, it can be frustrating. But so far as I can tell, you can learn on your own if you put in the time.

And from day two:

And lastly, building an application from a guide, and doing it yourself from scratch, are deeds that cannot be compared; they bear extremely little resemblance to each other. I managed to copy paste a great number of code samples into pre-built templates. Those worked. Then I tried to make a little app that would display ‘Alex Sucks’ whenever I clicked on the button that I had cleverly coded to say ‘Press Me.’ I couldn’t get the button to play nice. I pored over examples, but apparently didn’t declare a class properly, or perhaps at all, and so the whole affair sank.

Development is a big hairy mess from my perspective, because I can’t see the order in it. But I can sense it. This stuff is cool. Building things, is cool.

I’m off the development bandwagon because my stable of personal projects really has no more room, but, it was an illuminating process that I recommend to you.

Internet Explorer

What if I told you that Internet Explorer was having a renaissance of sorts. By that I mean rising market share, and increasingly positive press. It’s almost uncanny, like a ghost from the grave losing weight.

Internet Explorer has been all but written off by the tech community; we’re Chrome people, by and large. That’s our new DNA, or at least it has been. But among the masses, Internet Explorer has been picking up market share, at the expense of both Firefox, and Chrome. Crazy, right?

Well, as it turns out, Internet Explorer 9 is settling some past scores for the franchise. A recent test gave it plaudits for speed, making us sit up a bit; is IE back? In a way, yes.

Our suspicion is that Microsoft is doing a much better job at holding on to new computer purchasers, not losing their browsing custom to competitors. This means that Internet Explorer 9 is holding its own, and expanding as new machines are sold. Not bad, we say.


Finally for the week, we have to discuss the Lumia 900. We have one on hand, and found the device to be quite nice. However, not all reviewers were so kind. We accreted a compendium of views on the device, and came to the following conclusion:

What does all this add up to? The Lumia 900 is no flop, people found it to be the best Windows Phone. It’s low price, however, did come with notes that its hardware is not up to the highest notch. But when taken all in, there were very few voices calling out that the Lumia 900 will take on the iPhone 4S, or the best of the Android crop on a level basis.

That must be a disappointment for Nokia. Microsoft must have been hoping for more as well. That said, the phone will sell. Its low price will do much to move it, and it will provide Nokia a good first foot back into the US market. Much like the start of Windows Phone, Nokia’s war is going to start slow, and burn for a long, long time.

So the Lumia 900 is no homerun, but it is no strike either. Time will tell how well it will sell.

That’s all for this week. Wait for 5 o’clock, and then make a proper Vodka Gin Collins