Earlier this month, I ran a Windows 8 – devices & app development survey.
I asked four simple questions:
- Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
- Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?
- Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?
- Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?
During the first two weeks of August, the survey was tweeted and re-tweeted. As such, it attracted enough attention to provide some very interesting results. 200 people responded within the first week of August; another 80 during the second week. I’m now in a position to share the results…having spent a “little bit” of time working out how best to display the data! Turns out Microsoft Excel was the answer all along!
Thanks are due to Matt Baxter-Reynolds for his input and contribution towards the design of this survey.
QUESTION 1 – Do you intend to purchase a Windows 8 device?
The answers on offer were:
- Yes, I plan to purchase a device as soon as it’s available
- Yes, I plan to purchase a device next year
- Yes, I plan to purchase a “Windows RT” device this year and a “Windows Pro” device next year
- No, I have no plans to purchase a device this year or next
Between now and next year, 61% of respondents are planning to purchase a device capable of running Windows 8.
36% plan to purchase a Windows 8 capable device as soon as it’s available. From what information is available at the time of writing, this device will be running Windows RT; it may or may not be a Microsoft piece of hardware though. Personally, I see the Windows RT device as something that I can have on the arm of a sofa. It’s not a device I plan to spend a lot of time “working” at, but a device that I will use for short periods of time on a regular basis. It may well be the device that we use when travelling, something to keep us connected in hotels, etc. It’s unlikely that a keyboard will play a major part in its use, although it may well be used if it’s part of the cover.
20% plan to wait until next year before buying into Windows 8. Like most things, some folks prefer to wait until a device / platform has been established before making their investment.
5%, myself included, plan to purchase a Windows RT device and a Windows Pro device. I am hoping the Windows RT device will be the device that is kept in the lounge, on the arm of the aforementioned sofa. The Windows Pro device I hope to be able to use in place of a laptop. I would like to be able to use it at conferences, as organiser, as attendee and as a speaker. By that virtue, I would like it to have sufficient performance to be able to run Visual Studio and the like, i.e. it should be able to “achieve” where many netbooks have tried and failed.
17% are considering their options when they responded with “Perhaps.” This is fine. Whilst Microsoft would love it if we all rushed out to by their devices running Windows 8, it’s understandable that many folks will want to wait and see how the devices and the operating system turn out.
22% do not intend to purchase a Windows 8 capable device.
QUESTION 2 – Are you planning to develop your own “apps” for Windows 8?
The answers on offer were:
- Yes, I am already developing software for Windows 8
- Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 this year
- Yes, I plan to start developing software for Windows 8 next year
- No, I have no plans to develop software for Windows 8
63% of respondents are either developing software for Windows 8 or have plans to do so between now and next year. Do remember that it is possible to develop Windows 8 software without actually owning a device. Whilst it is possible, developing Windows 8 applications on a tablet-like device itself is probably an extreme, most respondents will use meatier development machines.
25% are already developing software. I would imagine that this pot included a number of Windows Phone developers who are busy porting their “apps” over to Windows 8. The programming model is very similar; so much so, one might consider the Windows Phone model a subset of the Windows 8 model. However, I would also expect this 25% includes those developers who have downloaded Visual Studio 2012 (in it’s pre-RTM releases).
31% are planning to start developing software during the course of this year.
7% are planning to develop software, but not until next year.
15% are sitting on the fence and might develop Windows 8 software.
22% are fairly clear and have no plans at all. In many ways, there is no obligation to own a device in order to develop apps for it. This has been proven in the Windows Phone space; students at the University of Hull have published apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace that were developed using the Windows Phone emulator attached to Visual Studio 2010. I expect that some of the 22% of respondents have gone on to answer the remaining questions with that in mind.
QUESTION 3 – Is your employer planning to develop ‘tablet’ apps for Windows 8?
The answers on offer were:
- Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products
- Yes, definite plans for internal use
- Yes, definite plans for off-the-shelf products and internal use
- We are planning to run a pilot/investigate further
- No plans to develop Windows 8 apps
- I don’t have an employer
21% of respondents are planning to develop ‘tablet’ software for their employers, whether it is for off-the-shelf or internal use only products. 12% are looking to develop off-the-shelf products, 3% are building for internal use only and 6% are targeting both. Internal use only development seems rather low, 3% equates to 8 respondents.
18% plan to run a pilot study. In the corporate world, this is a fairly normal thing to do. It is likely that some of the percentage points will convert themselves in to “Yes” responses as the pilot projects prove themselves. Equally, some will become “No” or may be put on the back-burner to “Perhaps”.
21% are sitting on the fence and might consider developing ‘tablet’ software if their employer asked. This is a demand driven approach – if clients ask for tablet-based software, many firms will weigh up the pros and cons of such a development venture. Given that Windows 8 devices have the ability to run applications that are built using Visual Studio, firms with a bedrock of Visual Studio development expertise may well find a new market has opened up for them. And it is a low-risk market at that – if the developers know the tools, there’s no cross-training to Objective-C (Apple devices) or Java (Android devices).
33% of “corporate” respondents have no plans to develop ‘tablet’ software. This ties in with Questions 1 and 2, where we saw 22% of respondents answer “No”. It stands to reason that some respondents may not have employer or may not be looking to develop software for their employer.
7% of respondents did not have an employer. This answer was included largely to provide an “out” for this question. I did not want the “No” vote skewed when folks reached this question, I would rather have the 7% broken out than have it bundled in with the 33% of “No” responses.
QUESTION 4 – Thinking about ‘tablet’ devices – what is important to you?
Question four was a “tick all that apply” style of question. It was added to gather sentiment towards slates / tablets.
The results are not very surprising: a device that is quick to power on, doesn’t cost the Earth and can run for a long time would be an excellent design goal. Having plenty of “apps” available is also a good design goal – it appears that people want to be able to use their devices “right out of the box”; we can perhaps infer that also means “right out of the box at launch“. This is not a bad thing: Microsoft are being very proactive and are rallying the developer community such that they might develop Windows 8 apps before the launch date in October. And that’s not all: there is a steady stream of DevCamps covering Windows 8 development, Azure, Windows Phone and the Web.
High up the list, at 45.1%, “Availability of free software development tools”. In keeping with earlier releases, Microsoft has Visual Studio Express 2012 for Windows 8. With the exception of any membership fees that developers must pay in order to submit apps to the Windows Store, Visual Studio Express won’t cost you a penny. If you have an MSDN licence, the membership fees are waived for the first year.
Lower down the percentage points, we see a reasonable drop from 28.5% down to 13.4%. Screen size, Flash support, packaging and colour appear to be the less popular options. The problems of the Nexus 7 packaging did not seem to ruffle any feathers in this poll, only 6.5% of respondents were keen on easy access packaging! Looking at everything from 28.5% upwards, the specification for current Microsoft hardware devices hit all of these percentage points. I am sure we can expect to see many third party hardware manufacturers using these percentage points as differentiators in what promises to be a heated lead up to Christmas 2012.
Only 9.7% of respondents expressed the need for Flash support. With HTML 5 becoming ever more prevalent, many web-sites are moving away from using Flash. Plus, it would appear to be the subject of a rather emotive debate that involves some rather choice language!
Colour choice does not seem to be a deciding factor in this survey, 5.1% equates to 14 respondents. Elsewhere, colour is number 9 (out of 10) on Debra’s list of 10 reasons I can’t wait to get a Microsoft Surface tablet! Colour choice is probably useful if you have more than one similar looking device at your disposal. It also provides choice to the fraternity of folks who complain “I don’t like black”. That said, my wife loves her Nokia Lumia, despite the fact it’s not the right shade of pink for her (it’s magenta wasn’t the correct answer it seems!)
I am happy to update this post with your thoughts, please note them in the comments below.
If you are thinking about developing software or apps for Windows 8, find your nearest DevCamp! They are a great place to meet like-minded developers and your local Microsoft Developer Platform Evangelists (DPEs)!