Surface Pro 4: A Positive Switch for an Open Source Fan

Discover how I found positive experiences with the open source community and my new Surface Pro 4, in contrast to being a MacBook Pro user.

I think when companies do good things, they deserve credit for it. When Microsoft embraced the open source community, I was pleasantly surprised and shared how I’d been feeling about the change in the company with my post .NET Goes Open Source - An Epic Day… This is Your New Microsoft . As a MacBook Pro / OSX guy, I shared my mostly positive experience with my new Surface Pro 4. We saw the Office group ship a client to help build Office Add-ins for non Windows & Visual Studio developers which was such a cool move for the platform! ( Creating Office Add-ins with Yeoman - YO OFFICE! .

The open source announcement and many other moves by the Office group really pushed the sentiment that Microsoft was moving past their Windows only silo and were embracing everyone. Office released a new version of their stellar desktop client suite for OSX, they released Office for iOS and promised Office Add-ins (aka: Office Apps) would be supported everywhere Office was. We had add-ins in the Windows & web clients for Office. We had some support in iOS and OSX. We weren’t given specific timelines, but we were told active development was underway in these areas to get to full parity. We all walked away feeling this was coming in a matter of months, but certainly not years.

I made a prediction / ask to Microsoft for 2016 to have better cross-platform follow-through in my podcast episode Microsoft Cloud Show: Episode 110 | AC and CJ’s 2016 Predictions and Wishes . Since that episode I got some inquires into what I meant by that ask.

Well lately I feel that the Office group has been dropping the ball and leaving people who don’t drink the Windows kool-aid with little follow-through and very few if any updates to timelines. And you know what? There are a lot of people getting sick of waiting around with no updates. Does Redmond care after so much good press when they released Office on iOS & OSX? If they did, wouldn’t they communicate with their customers more? You’d think so…

Where Are We with Office Add-ins on OSX & iOS?

We will don’t have add-in parity between the OSX, iOS, web & Windows Office clients. In fact, we haven’t seen any updates in a while in this area. We have add-ins for the read forms for email & events, but not the compose. I thought we’d see those by the end of the year? Any word? Any update? Do I have to wait another few months until the Build Conference in San Francisco to see another matrix that says “soon”?

Where are we with Skype for Business on OSX?

We were told an OSX client for Skype for Business was coming to replace the pathetic & unreliable Lync client. Hell, I was personally told by a Microsoft employee in the Office pavilion at Ignite 2015 in Chicago last May that we’d see a new version of the Skype for Business client by the end of the year (2015).

And then, without much fanfare, they slip in a little statement within some YouTube video SfB Video Broadcast that we will see a public preview sometime between April & June 2016 (Q2CY16) and then will see a final version (GA / generally available) sometime between July & September 2016 (Q3CY16) based upon feedback from public preview. Seriously? You ship a new version of Lync / Skype for Business in April 2015 , you ship an iOS app in October 2015 and you ship an Android app in December 2015 , but on OSX the OTHER non-mobile platform people use, you don’t even have a preview client until a solid year after your service releases? Sorry, that sucks.

Have you been on a Skype for Business meeting? Seems like the first 10 minutes is always people trying to get audio / video / sharing working. Ever tried a Google Hangout? Man… it just works and no special client to install. This is why I and so many other customers have no patience for these delays & sub par experience.

And I’ll spare you the story of trying to sign up for the new Skype for Business Cloud PBX & PSTN offering… what a horrible experience that I’ll share later.

My Ask - Microsoft, Deliver on your Commitments

This isn’t a big ask, it’s a simple one. You’ve been pretty open to saying you were more than Windows. For the Office group, the follow-through doesn’t show it. Not only that, but you’ve gone to radio silence or in the case of Skype for Business, an embarrassing timeline considering when the service shipped.

Andrew Connell
Developer & Chief Course Artisan, Voitanos LLC. | Microsoft MVP
Written by Andrew Connell

Andrew Connell is a web & cloud developer with a focus on Microsoft Azure & Microsoft 365. He’s received Microsoft’s MVP award every year since 2005 and has helped thousands of developers through the various courses he’s authored & taught. Andrew’s the founder of Voitanos and is dedicated to helping you be the best Microsoft 365 web & cloud developer. He lives with his wife & two kids in Florida.

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