While the President and the Congress work out a bipartisan way to create jobs for Americans, Microsoft steps in and offers 450,000,000 income opportunities. Today, the Microsoft Build Conference (Sept 13-16, 2011 Anaheim, CA) kicked off in full swing with a great opening keynote from Steven Sinofsky – President of Windows and Windows Live Division. Steven demoed the new Windows 8 Experience, application development, the new app marketplace, new hardware & devices, and Windows Live Services integration. You can watch the on-demand stream here.
While most people are watching to see if Windows 8 is better than “the other guys” widget du jour, I was caught up in Steven’s conversation to his core audience—developers, developers, developers!
He opened with the number of consumers currently using Windows 7—over 450,000,000. That is 1.5 times greater than the population of the United States. Moreover, Windows 7 has eclipsed the venerable Windows XP in consumer adoption. In fact, Windows 7 has had the fastest adoption of any previous Microsoft operating platform. Lastly, Windows 8 builds on the Windows 7 platform and maintains compatibility with all current Windows 7 applications. All of this makes Windows 8 a tremendous opportunity for creativity, STEM, and entrepreneurship.
Having an addressable market opportunity to deliver apps, devices, and services to over 400 million consumers is significant. Even more, there will be new consumers buying new devices for Windows tablets and ARM-based devices.
If only ten percent of the current Windows 7 population moved forward to Windows 8, it would be same number of folks running the Mac OS X operating system worldwide (Cook 2010). If 30 percent upgraded to Windows 8 it would be roughly the same number of all of the iOS devices that have shipped since their inception (Jobs 2010).
Developers and entrepreneurs are doing the math. Student developers should be doing the math too.
Democratizing App Development
Near the closing of Steven’s keynote, he showcased the Summer of Apps video. All of the applications that were shown for the Windows 8 demo were conceived, designed, and built by college interns over the summer of 2011. This democratization of application development is a tremendous opportunity for students considering what they can do for an income.
The developer tools shown during the demo were “Express” editions. Visual Studio Express versions have been free tools in recent years. Students can download the high-end, professional editions for free at DreamSpark.com. Entrepreneurs can download semi-free tools at Microsoft BizSpark.com. Anyone can get access to world-class developers tools for the reimagined Windows platform with just a click. A creative person does not need money to get started. They just need a Windows PC.
A Windows PC is key. On “the other guys” mobile platforms, developers have to build their apps in an altogether separate and distinctly different environment. Often times, they are built on Windows or Mac. With Windows 8, you build, test, debug, and trial your new apps in or on the same PC. The economics of that simple decision cannot be overstated. It means that a fifteen year old student who could afford a Windows PC, did not have to find more money to buy multiple versions of a tablet to test their application. A critical barrier to entry has been removed.
A Standard Windows PC
Windows 8 makes HTML5 standards-based web development first class applications on Windows. Some developers may choose to never learn C++, C#, Visual Basic, or Silverlight. However, a web developer will be able to build applications, market them, and sell them in the Windows App Store. Their end-consumer will most likely be unable to detect the difference between development approaches since each purchase will run as native apps on Windows. This opens new doors for developers and consumers alike.
The Network Economy
It was just a few short years ago, that I could walk into any retail electronics store and see aisles of computer software. Over the past two years, those aisles of software (plural) have become the isle of software—sitting off by itself for people who just have to have an optical media disc.
With the rise of electronic software distribution and online application marketplaces, the requirement to visit a retail store to buy software is no more. Replacing the old is a a new opportunity for would-be developers. New digital distribution channels, through app markets, no longer require developers to make the investments of yesteryear: manufacturing products, packaging, inventory & shipping, and in-store marketing. Developers can simply submit their application electronically for compliance testing and within a matter of days, it will be available for purchase to an audience of 450,000,000 consumers.
While you marinate on that, imagine that you live rural Ohio—where I visited last week. In 2009, a developer would have leave that part of the country to market and sell a product to 450,000,000 people. Today, as long as the developer has a Windows PC with a reliable Internet connection, he or she can live in his or her hometown, pay taxes, and raise a family around friends and relatives. This is a win-win for everyone.
From STEM to Earn
I write about STEM Education often on Higher Innovation. I keynote on STEM Education across the country to policymakers and executives in and outside of education. I have read all of the statistics regarding American competitiveness in Science and Math vis-à-vis our international counterparts. Even with all of the data highlighting our shared problem, we lack a shared and urgent vision of how to prepare our kids for jobs, careers, or income that is a decade or even a day away.
Computer Science and computer programming are two disciplines that provide opportunity for anyone that desires to seize it now. This is not a “I’ll wait till I graduate” moment. There would be no Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer (dropped out of graduate school), Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, or Mark Zuckerberg; if these men did not sense the urgency of their times.
Yet, while students do not have to wait until graduation to start, each student must finish school. Teachers, principals, Career & Technology Education directors, Science Curriculum leaders should embrace this opportunity to help their students develop relevant workplace and income-generating skills. That simply means that students should have modern tools and learning experiences in and out of the classroom so that they can learn, test, fail, and practice.
Get Busy, Y’all
In the words of Joe Ski Love, “Get Busy Y’all!” Tonight at 9PM Pacific Daylight Time, Microsoft will make available the Windows 8 Developer Preview build at dev.windows.com. That is where your journey begins.
In Steven’s keynote, he showed a three year old netbook computer with an Intel ATOM processor designed for Windows XP running Windows 8. You do not need a new computer to get started. Use what you have. Start where you are.
When you have begun your journey, share your story in the comments below.
Windows 8 Developer Preview: dev.windows.com
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