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Why is it faster and cheaper to develop for Mac?

At Swift Software Group, which is our consulting business, we are seeing now more and more projects that have the requirement to run on Mac and Windows. What we found out is that making a Mac version of a software product almost always takes less effort than making the corresponding Windows version. That is a surprise for everybody, as we have been what some people call “PCs” for a long time. So naturally I started thinking why the Mac development turns out to be more efficient. It is definitely not the tools – Visual Studio is still a better IDE than XCode – it is not the OS either, Mac OS and Windows 7 are both nice and modern operating systems and both are centered around better usability and increased productivity.

So why is it faster and cheaper to develop for Mac?

The first thing about Mac is the stability of the underlying platform. By that I mean that you rarely worry about things like drivers, other software messing up with your software, devices not working as expected and so on problems that are common on Windows . Once something works on the developers’ Macs it works flawlesslyon any Mac worldwide. It just works. With Windows the OS/Hardware combo is never guaranteed to work in a consistent way. It is important to say here that the problem is not Windows by itself, but Windows in combination with the infinite number of hardware, devices and drivers out there.

The second thing that makes your Mac developer life easier is the fact that Mac owners upgrade the system software often. As a result most of your customers run the latest version of Mac OS shortly after Apple releases it. With Windows you have Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, server versions, 32Bit and 64Bit, so at the end you must spend a lot of time (and money) to make sure your product works on every kind of Windows.

Zune will be no more

According to a report by Bloomberg, Microsoft will stop making any new Zune models and shift its focus to developing software for mobile phones and video-game consoles.

That’s unfortunate as Zune seemed to be the only device on the market that offered any alternative to iPod. Particularly the latest Zune HD is not a bad device at all. It has been rated second after iPod Touch by sites like CNet. I think Zune HD might have had a chance in the long run. Let’s hope the Bloomberg’s report turns out just a rumor.

Android Honeycomb emulator is completely useless

I decided to test drive the new Android 3.0 and tools today.

I updated my Eclipse environment to the latest Helios revision and then downloaded and installed the latest Android SDK and tools.

I created a basic photo slideshow application to test with. However, the Android 3.0 Honeycomb emulator is so slow, it is actually useless for any kind of development or testing. It takes forever for the application to load and start and then it runs extremely slow. The machine I test on is Intel Core i7, 2.67 GHz, quad-core with 12GB RAM, so that is a pretty good machine. I cannot imagine what else the Android emulator might need to run faster.

XNA Game Framework for iOS and Android

I recently came across MonoGame / (formerly XNATouch) – a cool open source project that implements XNA on top of OpenGL. MonoGame currently runs on MonoTouch, Mac OS X and Windows, and MonoDroid will be supported as well. So now we have a portable .NET game platform for all major mobile platforms.

Can HP become the next Apple

As you may know HP acquired WebOS when it bought phone maker Palm for $1.2 billion last year, and this week Leo Apotheker, the new CEO of HP, said in a Bloomberg interview, that starting next year, every PC shipped by HP will come with WebOS in addition to Microsoft Windows.

I think it is a move in the right direction for HP. Clearly, if done right, a model where both hardware and software are developed in-house works (as shown by Apple). If HP is able to play the software part well, then we might see some users switching to WebOS at least for home use.

If HP is successful with WebOS, other big PC vendors might follow the same model. So, where all this leaves Microsoft? One way for Microsoft to continue forward is to start making and selling its own brand of computer, tablet and possibly phone device (just like it did with Zune and Xbox).