Visual Studio Should Be Free
I was typing up a post about a recent Asus laptop purchase and planned to throw in some notes at the end. As I was typing up the notes, it hit me – Visual Studio isn’t free! (Of course not, silly me.) Here’s the thing: it’s not that it costs money, people will gladly pay money for quality – but Visual Studio is CRAZY expensive by today’s standards. I just jumped over to the Microsoft Visual Studio site and found that I could buy Ultimate for a cool $12K. (And, realistically, you WANT “Ultimate” because there is nothing worse than finding out the version you bought isn’t capable of doing something…)
.NET Development is Dying
That pricetag virtually assures us that all new innovation WILL NOT take place using Microsoft tools. Further, it won’t run on IIS which means it will won’t run on Windows (as both, while not technically necessary for .NET development, are intimately intertwined from a real world perspective).
Think of Facebook. The next Zuckerbug is sitting in a dorm somewhere coding away. Is he using C#/SQL Server/IIS or is he using PHP/MySQL/Apache? The answer is obvious. Microsoft will counter that they have much cheaper “student licenses.” This is further evidence that Microsoft just doesn’t get it. (Not to mention that a ”student version license” is worthless for the real world deployment that Zuckerbiscuit is contemplating.)
Small Businesses Don’t Use Visual Studio
I deal with many small businesses and deal with them intimately. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “I don’t want to be tied into Microsoft stuff,” or “Microsoft stuff is too expensive for us.” Take a look at any hosting provider. The linux options are universally cheaper – all the way from the cheapest shared hosting to dedicated servers, Microsoft is more expensive to run. The tools all cost money. SQL Server is expensive to license (not as bad as Oracle, but that is a different topic). Microsoft support is expensive.
The end result is that Microsoft is firmly entrenched in the upper crust of Worldwide business, but has virtually no support from the up and comers or the small business ranks. The only reason any average Joe has Visual Studio running on his machine is because his employer has a subscription to MSDN. Microsoft even makes it a pain for those guys to install it on their home machines now.
Google Changed The World
(But they did it a really long time ago.) And Microsoft has never figured out how to adapt. Microsoft needs desperately to gain some traction. Visual Studio is still AWESOME. You can build a killer website in a fraction of the time it takes with PHP. It’s time to give it away for free and get a couple Zuckerbifs on board before everyone catches up (and it won’t be long).
Microsoft is cash rich. They can afford to give it away. They’d get a ton of press. They’d seem young and hip again – instead of “corporate” and stodgy. The incremental revenue they’d give up would be worth it in the long run. (At least they’d have to take that chance.)
Of course, I know they won’t. First off, Balmer will never read this. Secondly, I’m sure Visual Studio has a decent bottom line. Third, there are many VP’s, many managers, and a whole slew of MS corporate people who would be appalled at the idea of giving away. There is still the, “I’d lose my job!” mentality even though we know free tools can sustain themselves. (Granted, they would probably need to completely restructure and cut a bunch of the non-creative dead wood.)
Meh, I’m tired now. Time to surf over to Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. I’ve been meaning to upload a sitemap over at Bing for awhile, but somehow I keep forgetting…
Wise Man Say, “Send me a Free Copy of Visual Studio.”
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