Microsoft Windows 8 hackathon, Mumbai

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Over 200 hundred developers from across India have camped up for two days at a hotel in south Mumbai for a Windows 8 hackathon. This is the first time that the Indian developer community is getting into the hack mode for Microsoft Windows.

Hackathon, or codefest, is an event in which computer programmers and others in the field of software development, like graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software-related projects.

With Microsoft Corp geared to launch its cloud-connected Windows 8 later this year, the US-based software developer is making sure that the developer community is ready with applications (apps) for the platform.

“India is an incredible bastion of software developers. On a global scale about 25-30 per cent of all the software codes written in the world are written by Indian developers (based out in India and abroad). Certainly galvanising the developer community in India to see the possibility and re-imagine Windows 8 and build next generation businesses is important,” said Steve Ballmer, chief executive officer (CEO) of Microsoft, via a video conference at the Microsoft India Technology Summit.

Atul Gupta, an individual application developer who has been coding for the last 16-17 hours, is elated with his experience on Windows 8. “This is my first time that I have attended a hackathon and the experience was awesome. The application that I developed is consumer oriented,” said Gupta.

But some of the app developers, who are active on the Android and Apple platforms, are yet to test the Windows 8 platform. “We do not see any immediate reason to be part of the Windows 8 environment. What matters is the actual number of people using handset on that platform, as of now they are very small. Besides the Android base is just growing fast,” said Sagar Bedmutha, founder CEO of Optinno Mobitech.

The company has been developing apps for Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry smartphones and the Android platform.

Noida based OnGraph Technologies is yet another app developer that is staying away from the Windows 8 platform. “Our issue with Windows is that it is not an open source system. Hence, we prefer Android,” said Nikhil Verma, business development manager, OnGraph.

For Microsoft, getting the developer support from India and APAC (Asia Pacific region) will be significant as the region has several hundreds of companies creating application for the Android, Apple and RIM platforms. “For Microsoft, this is crucial as they need to create a market. There is no dispute that Windows has a huge base in the enterprise segment but that’s not the case in the handset and tablet segments. And these are two areas that are growing exponentially,” said an analyst who did not want to be identified.
Ballmer also reiterated that the launch of Windows 8 is a “rebirth” of the company. “While Windows 7 was one of the best products, with Windows 8 we are re-imagining Windows from ground up,” he said.

Agrees Alok Shende, principal analyst, Ascentius Consulting: “For Microsoft Windows 8 is one of the most important product. The company has a dominant position in the desktop environment, the challenge will be in the mobile category. With Blackberry losing sheen in the enterprise segment perhaps Microsoft can address that market too. But consumers already have too much to choose from,” added Shende.

Vishal Tripathi, principal research analyst, Gartner, believes that Windows 8 has its benefits as security, application store and delivery models and app contracts. It will also support broader devices where users can have same seamless experience on tablet, Phone and PC. “But one of the challenges for Windows 8 is the Metro UI. While they have developed plenty of desktop applications but the catalogue of Metro is limited. Though Microsoft is encouraging developers to build applications and apps acquired through the app store are free for a limited time. In India Windows 8 adoption will face some resistance enterprise who have recently migrated to Windows7 so moving to to a new platform is a huge cost in terms of license, manpower, application testing etc. The change in OS in the enterprise environment happens every three to four years in India and in case of small businesses perhaps up to five to years. It might make sense of companies who are still on XP to move to Windows 8,” said Tripathi.

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