Windows 8

Discussion in 'Future Products' started by thph2006, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. thph2006

    thph2006 进士

    Any thoughts on Pleco for Windows 8? Seems like MS' intent is to unify everything Desktop/Mobile/Gaming on that platform.
  2. andria

    andria 秀才

    I am very excited about this! Convergence of desktop and mobile interfaces is the right idea, especially for Chinese!
    Would you be able to use anything you have from the previous Pleco for Windows Mobile for this?
  3. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    It's unlikely that much of our old WM code would be usable since the user interface APIs are totally different - we attempted a port to older desktop Windows and even got it working reasonably well, but it was so ugly and outdated-looking relative to current Windows apps (and this in the Vista days) that we decided not to move forward with it even then, and there's no way we could end up with a modern attractive Windows 8 app now without totally new UI code.

    Regarding whether a Windows 8 version is a possibility in general, that depends on whether they start supporting native code on their smartphones - absent Windows Phone achieving something like 70-80% market share (which seems exceedingly unlikely) it's doubtful that we could justify the effort to port our entire cross-platform engine to .NET, even assuming we could get the performance to the level we'd need it to be, so a Windows Phone port is a no-go the way it's currently constructed, and without smartphone compatibility it's unlikely we'd develop a version just for Windows tablets.

    Honestly, we've been able to make so little progress on new features in the last 2.5 years as we've ported to iOS and then Android that we're really not eager to embark on another new OS port right now - we need a couple of years to consolidate our gains and add all of the amazing new stuff we've been planning before we can think about once again slowing all of that down to support yet another OS.
  4. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint 榜眼

    I think Windows 8 is getting more and more appealing, and can see myself trying a Windows phone within 2-3 years. At this point, it looks like Windows 8 (and later) will eventually gain a substantial portion of the market. I mean, history has proven that Microsoft has the resources to eventually and inevitably get it right. And then there's this business about Samsung looking to ditch Android for RIM or possibly even Windows:

    And Samsung currently has the most promising hardware options out there, seeing as how Apple appears committed strictly to the one-handed form factor. With Samsung, I've put my money where my mouth is. I can see wanting to follow them into a different operating system.
  5. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    I find it extremely unlikely that Samsung would switch to Windows Phone; they want to be like Apple - want their own app store (already pushing it pretty aggressively to developers), lots of proprietary features / APIs, etc - and Microsoft's strictness regarding Windows Phone fragmentation gives them few opportunities for that sort of differentiation. The Galaxy Note would not have happened on Windows Phone unless Microsoft had come up with the idea first. Plus, given Microsoft's friendliness with Nokia (which I'd say has at least a 50% chance of turning into an acquisition within the next year or two) I don't think that switch is likely to make them feel much safer than they do with Google buying Motorola. And it would be a difficult transition - carry both OSes and risk massive consumer confusion, or switch and see mass defection to other manufacturers by Android lovers.

    More likely they'll go the Amazon route and start forking Android more aggressively - they're pretty far along on that already, all they really need to do is stop including Android Market on their phones and just about every Android developer will immediately want to list their app in the Samsung store. Samsung has the resources to continue Android development independent of Google (in fact, given what a UI trainwreck Android 4.0 is they might even outdo them), and they'd stand a darn good chance of making their version of it more popular than the Google one - they'd control their own destiny like Apple while still maintaining access to the same massive base of Android apps.

    If Google reacted by requiring apps to list exclusively in Android Market, the whole thing could fall apart and manufacturer stores could become the dominant mode of Android app distribution - heck, Samsungs are so dominant among our customers (particularly the ones who actually buy add-ons) that if we had to choose between only supporting Samsungs or not supporting them but supporting every other Android manufacturer's phones, there's a strong chance we'd choose the former.

    As far as Windows 8, though, we really can't afford to support more than two platforms (even that many has proven to be a stretch), so we'd only consider a Windows version of Pleco if we discontinued the iOS or Android one. Which doesn't seem likely to happen anytime soon - even if Microsoft miraculously manages to carve out a respectable chunk of the market, iOS and Android aren't going to simply vanish anytime soon, and iOS customers have a proven willingness to spend money on apps that other platforms' users simply don't (we currently make 3x as much on iOS with its 24% market share as we do off of Android with its 51% share, and that seems to be a fairly typical ratio for other mobile developers too).
  6. gato

    gato 状元

    What about when Windows 8 converges the PC and the tablet? Microsoft would have a huge market if you count both.
  7. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Possible, but we have to wait and see whether Windows 8 actually does well enough for Microsoft to commit to its architecture long-term. Microsoft releases a LOT of APIs and it's very hard to get excited about a brand new one until there gets to be enough of a base of apps / expertise that they can't easily change it; they're completely changing programming models for Windows Phone 8 from Windows Phone 7, for example, going from Silverlight to WinRT, and even though old Windows Phone 7 apps will supposedly still run, they'll be second-class citizens and destined for future obsolescence. So anybody who just painstakingly rewrote their app for Windows Phone 7 is likely to be pretty ticked-off now.

    This is far from the first time Microsoft has done this sort of thing, and other companies have done it too (Palm did it when they moved webOS to tablets, though hardly anybody bothered to support the new API before they discontinued webOS), so spending a year porting Pleco to a brand new system that may or may not prove to have actual staying power seems like a very bad idea.

    But never say never - two years or so from now we may finally be sufficiently caught-up with enhancements to our iOS and Android software that we can start thinking about new platforms again.
  8. gato

    gato 状元

    Yeah, it makes sense to wait for things to stabilize.
  9. Raesu

    Raesu 秀才

    Ok...given the Surface and WP8 announcements this week (shared kernel, native code), certainly you MUST be reconsidering this platform right?! I have been on wp7 for almost a year a carry my iPhone around still just for pleco. Please have good news for me! :)
  10. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Have to see what sales are like first - the fact that your WP7 phone won't be able to run Windows Phone 8 apps (so our supporting it won't let you drop your iPhone) is a sign of how much of an uphill climb they have, especially with Google expected to announce big things at their conference next week.
  11. Alexis

    Alexis 状元

    It would be interesting to know how many paid users bought Pleco because it was available for their platform vs how many users bought their platform because Pleco was available for it.
  12. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    More now than there used to be - Windows Mobile's sales came with a corresponding reduction in Palm OS sales, but Android sales (though not in general as high as we'd like) haven't really affected iOS sales at all. However, the fact that we arrived very late in the iOS and Android markets and nonetheless quickly became the highest grossing Chinese dictionary on each suggests that we can afford to wait and see what WP8 sales are like before deciding whether to commit to it. Especially given how much less time a port to WP8 would take than the Android port did...
  13. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint 榜眼

    The opposite logic also works: if it takes you much less time to port to WP8 than Android, then you could jump in much earlier than you did with Android because you have much less to lose in case WP8 tanks. And isn't there some further security to developing for WP8 in that the app could then run on Windows 8 desktops much more compatibly? I'm not a programmer, so I don't know about the details of WP8/Windows 8 compatibility. But I do know I'd probably buy a WP8 phone to mess around with if Pleco were available on it. Granted, the market segment that wastes money messing around with new hardware isn't large. But if I had a WP8 phone, I'd also be likely to upgrade my computers to Windows 8 as soon as possible to get Pleco desktop. Recall that Blue Stacks won't run Pleco on my high-end Sony Z2. Otherwise, I'm quite happy to hold off on Windows 8 because 7 does everything I need it to do just fine.
  14. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    It might take less time, but our time is more valuable now - the opportunity cost of a WP8 port is greater because we're now already on two popular platforms and because we've lost some competitive ground over the past year due to the Android porting distraction. Less development time means that we can launch a WP8 port after WP8 has already established itself and still do well, but it doesn't mean that we're risking any less than we did with Android.
  15. JimmyTheSaint

    JimmyTheSaint 榜眼

    By the way, is there some serious competitor on either iPhone or Android? Last time I looked, all the others were still rather basic compared with Pleco. Their only advantage was price, and even there they hardly seem worth it (comparatively) unless they're free.
  16. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Not for the whole product, but there's certainly competition for each of our app's constituent pieces; our flashcard system may gain a lot from being integrated with a Chinese dictionary, but if it falls too far behind another flashcard app in its other features people might still pick that.
  17. Raesu

    Raesu 秀才

    If its of any use, I would throw $50 dollars at you for Pleco Desktop. Without even including any add-ons. If w8 and wp8 are as similar in code base as Microsoft makes them sound, that could be a compelling biz model. Develop a free app for wp, and touch it up a bit for a premium desktop/tablet client. People are used to paying ~$50 for desktop software anyway.

    Now that both platforms will run native code, I'm guessing that's what you mean by it being easier to port from iOS. and no worries about wp7 compatibility, I'll have a wp8 and a surface on day one ;)
  18. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    I think we'd probably offer the same app on all three platforms if we ported it at all. But this is really a ways off - there's a whole lot of stuff we have to do on iOS/Android first.
  19. darkNiGHTS

    darkNiGHTS Member

    I think Pleco on Windows 8/WP8 would be a perfect fit. One app can be developed for all three platforms, and thanks to the new metro interface, the interface scales well across from desktop to phone. Pleco is honestly the only thing keeping me from buying a windows phone.

    I understand the decision before not to make Pleco for WP7, but now with Windows 8 being a tablet OS, I think you could make a good amount of money on this.
  20. mikelove

    mikelove 皇帝 Staff Member

    Basically just a question of market share - we've learned our lesson from Android and iOS about waiting too long to support a new platform (in both cases our slowness gave competitors a chance to become established that they would not have had otherwise), but at the same time we don't want to compromise development on those platforms to support a new one. So if WP8 phones start to gain some market share we'll probably do something for it (though perhaps initially just a basic dictionary front end and little else), but at the moment consumers seem so thoroughly disinterested in renewing their relationship with Microsoft that I'm not feeling like it's worth prioritizing over other projects.

    (and it doesn't help matters that Microsoft have already released two of their own Chinese dictionaries and their own Chinese OCR app, all free - Microsoft may be a shadow of its former self, but it's still a pretty terrifying competitor for a company the size of Pleco)

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