Wednesday, 27 June 2012

MSFT Frustrations

Anyone else wondering who’s calling the shots over in Redmond at the moment? I wonder if they realise just how hard they are making things for us developers? Things that are bugging me at the moment include;

  • They still think IE is king and continue to build products like CRM to be IE only.
  • They don’t force a better world by making IE updates be “required” on windows update – imagine if IE7 disappeared overnight!
  • Stupid decisions like the one to not support IE9 on XP.
  • Marketing hype – like CRM is a development platform, when there’s no development story around it at all.

The reason I’m so narked today is, I’m working on a project that features significant integration to CRM Online, which has limited options for heavy customisation. To do anything useful, you either need to use Silverlight or an externally hosted ASP.NET app (on azure in my case) and use single sign on between the two. And this presents a set of problems;

  • This is an application within a large enterprise.
  • They still have thousands of desktops using XP
  • They still have thousands of desktops with IE7
  • They also have chrome on all these desktops.
  • The requirement is for a rich, HTML5 UI
    • Think single page apps, backbone, moustache, rest interfaces and an MVC application marshalling requests for data to CRM and a bunch of external services.

You can probably see where I’m going with this.

  • A HTML5 UI won’t work on IE7 – it’s not compliant with many of the standards needed, meaning we need to work in lots of IE7 specific mark-up and styling.
  • To test IE7, I need a virtual environment.
  • I can’t switch to chrome as dynamics thinks it’s a mobile browser.
  • I can’t upgrade to IE9 as it’s not available on XP.
  • Upgrading thousands of desktops to Windows 7 and IE9 isn’t going to happen overnight.
  • I can’t use Silverlight – it’s dead technology. (We all know there isn’t going to be a Silverlight 6)

It’s not the end of the world, but I am confused by their lack of co-operation across divisions.

Why couldn’t they have just put the effort in to make dynamics cross browser? Why don’t they just force us all to upgrade to the latest and greatest through windows update? Why don’t they learn from chrome and make IE9 available on XP? Why kill off a perfectly good RIA technology for LOB applications.

To their credit, as far as CRM is concerned, there is an update coming – the Q2 2012 update for CRM will be cross browser, so I guess I should be thankful there, but we’re going live on Monday, so that doesn’t help with immediate concerns.

I look forward to the day when CRM has a real developer story similar at least to SharePoint solutions, to when cross domain calls are properly nailed and ubiquitous in the browser, where single sign on is a breeze and where everyone’s browser is fully compliant with the latest standards.

I can dream….