Thoughts on Nokia + Microsoft

I believe this is the biggest mobile technology news since announcement of Apple iPhone back in 2007. And to be honest, I am all excited as one Apple fanboy would have, on such big news!


There are reasons why I am so much excited, but first let me start with the fact that many developers showing concern that Nokia made a mistake for selecting Microsoft Windows Phone 7 as it’s primary mobile OS.

I have been reading lots of news, reviews, analysis and comments around this partnership, positive and negative. I gone through official Forum Nokia’s blog post "Letter to Developers about Today’s News" and in comments I see many developers not so happy.

I would like share some of the facts and personal experience about Symbian OS.

Symbian for End-Users

This is the base fact that everyone, including Nokia also admits that Symbian’s UX is ugly. I have been using Nokia smartphones since 2004, and my first one was second-hand Nokia 7650, and I have witnessed that Symbian was doing great in terms of UI until iPhone. After that, I haven’t heard anyone praising Symbian’s UI.

Symbian for touch enabled devices, proved to be complete nightmare for Nokia. Since it’s introduction to date, they are still trying to tweak it to work better for touch input, sadly without any luck.

Honestly, tell me any 10 great looking native Symbian applications, which provide smooth, beautiful, and animated user experience. Oh, I know one, Gravity and my big applause to the guys who did it. Other than this, I have not seen any Symbian application which impressed me with such great UX compared to iPhone, Android or WP7 apps.

Other than this, I was quite disappointed from Nokia from the end-users’ perspective, as they’ve been selling Symbian devices by showing cool animated UI transitions, but in reality, the actual device, when rotated from portrait orientation, taking more than 7 seconds to show up the UI in landscape (personal experience). Yes, I’m talking about Nokia N97 and other Symbian 5th Edition devices. Lets take a look at this video.

Cool, isn’t it. But if anyone who have used one of these devices must know what I’m talking about.

All this Symbian ^3 hype is waste of money and resources. I have a Nokia N8, and I was not able to compose new or reply to an email until I upgraded to firmware PR1.1, which was released few days ago after months of delay, using my primary account of Mail for Exchange (I use Google Apps). And there were also many other users who were have same issue.

I was making jokes on this”¦ "Nokia – Connecting People NOT", and imagine Borat saying it, you’re gonna laugh "automagically" :D

Nokia N8 is really a fast device as compared to Nokia 5800XM I own. But the UI still lacks all the richness, smooth transitions, and usability I find on iPhone, somewhat on Android and now on WP7 devices. Even Nokia wasn’t able to deliver what they showed in an imaginative video demoed back in 2007. Lets take a look, and pay close attention to animations and transitions.

Symbian was the main reason of Nokia’s failing all this time. They have tried to tweak its UI to make it work on touch enabled devices, but unfortunately it didn’t worked out until now.

Last thing to add here is, Nokia’s official end-user support forums are filled with so many complaints, most of them are related to Symbian OS.

Symbian for Developers

I started learning Symbian back in 2006. My aim was to develop a compiler, which would allow Adobe Flash Lite developers to easily package and distribute their games and application on Symbian platform. I successfully delivered SWF2Go in March 2007 after 8 months of R’nD, and it’s been quite a success so far.

During my journey on Symbian OS, I learned how hard and time consuming it is to develop. Setting up it’s SDKs was quite big task for anyone new to Symbian, but who have worked on other mobile platforms. Other than my work on SWF2Go, I never developed any native Symbian C++ application.

Just in 2010, Nokia’s investments in Qt started to show up. Even though Qt it easy and fun to develop with and its been here for so long and already gone through embedded platforms, but still not ready for real mobile applications. When developer needs to do some real work, he ends up with same old dirty Symbian C++.

Qt Mobility 1.0 is released but it has some quirks. For example, there’s no native Qt APIs of dealing with device orientation. The new Qt Creator project wizard now adds that dirty Symbian C++ code for you.

Nokia could have at least replaced the UI shell of the Symbian ^3 using Qt with all it’s cool transitions and effects. Like HTC replaced Windows Mobile’s UI (almost same as Symbian) with HTC Sense UX. And they actually did a pretty good job on that.

So, Symbian is an outdated legacy OS, which have completed its life long ago. Its making Nokia, developers and the whole ecosystem around it completely slow.

Now stop being angry and join, celebrate with me ;)

Why I Am So Excited?

Microsoft really knows software. They also make mistakes, like everyone does, but they are pretty good. For example .Net, Xbox, Windows 7, Silverlight.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is developed from experiences of Windows Mobile. It is targeted specifically for next generation hardware and touch input. It is user friendly, stable and it works. Go checkout some cool reviews to find out for yourself.

Microsoft is the king of developer tools, specifically Visual Studio 2010. If you have never used it before, this tool will teach you, help you and make you expert within weeks. It’s code editing features are one of the best available today.

With tons of online resources already available, so you will never get stuck with any issue. There’s a vibrant developer community as well, from where we can learn more and share back expertise.

Microsoft offers a complete set of tools for development of Windows Phone 7 games and applications. And best thing about them is, all of these tools including VS2010, Expression Blend and XNA Game Studio are completely free. Installation experience is really smooth as well.

Once you are aboard, you’re gonna love it. You can take my word on that ;)

I also found some users and developers asking Nokia, why they didn’t selected Android? Well, other than what Mr. Elop already said about it, I would like to add, haven’t you guys already seen enough Android devices?

Everyone is making them, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG just to name a few. Now even those Chinese companies also started making them in masses. You will be getting a lot of them in coming days.

Don’t you guys want to see something new, something different, a competition, using new technology, developing for it, innovating with it, having a choice? I mean come on”¦ Guys!

Nokia + Microsoft = A Wining Combination

I believe that this partnership is a great opportunity for developers on Nokia platform to get back into fast lane, and rapidly develop and compete against other platforms. Provide best of the best games, applications and user experiences to the end-users. A winning combination for everyone.

/// chall3ng3r //

Photoshop Express FREE!

Yes, thats true. 2GB of free space from Adobe. Plus an online version of Photoshop to fix / enhance your photos.

Photoshop Express Screenshot

photoshop express screenshot 2

Update: New screenshot

So far it feels like a great service. On some blogs I read an impression maybe its too late for such service where there are already number of other services with similar features.

Well, I think coming late in scene have its disadvantages, but the biggest benefit could be, learning all the good things from earlier services. And offer something which users are expecting — Just like Microsoft did by bringing Silverlight, learning everything from Flash.

At this time, beta of service is ready. You can start here.

// chall3ng3r //

Microsoft Silverlight 2.0 Blasts!

mix-logoI watched the keynote live from, and was thrilled to see great demonstrations done with Silverlight 2.0.

I was just waiting for the mobile part of the Silverlight. There were two demos of Silverlight Mobile, one on a Windows Mobile 6 device, and other was on Nokia N95 8GB. Both applications looked great.

The on-demand stream of the keynote is now available, you can watch the entire keynote, or if you want to just skip to the Silverlight Mobile part, goto 2:12 time, where the demo of the two mobile applications were shown.

You can download Silverlight Beta 1 from Silverlight website, and also download the SDK and tools to develop Silverlight applications from the tools section.

If you are unaware of what is Silverlight, you might also want to take a look at this overview.

MS also released beta version of IE8, which some cool new features. For example, Activities and WebSlices. I really enjoyed the WebSlices idea. Check out the IE8 website for more.

Unfortunately, Silverlight Mobile beta was not released, but there’s a recent update on MIX website about new sessions for IE8 and Mobile.

I’m currently scheduling downloads in my download manager. I’ll post some experiments with Silverlight 2.0 soon.

// chall3ng3r //

Microsoft Silverlight Mobile coming to Nokia, wakeup Adobe!

microsoft_silverlight_cWOW, Nokia and Microsoft getting together to put Silverlight on Nokia devices. This includes Nokia S60, S40 and Tablet (Maemo) devices. Thats really cool!

Nokia’s official press release is here.

Here are some notable excerpts from deferent sources:

The expectation is that Silverlight will be embedded on new Nokia devices and downloadable to those already in the market.

view source

At MIX, Nokia will demonstrate Silverlight applications on its Series 60 and Series 40 handsets, and announce a beta program for its runtime. Phones with Silverlight should be on sale from the end of this year.

Microsoft will be developing a portability kit so Nokia can port Silverlight from the desktop to its mobile platform; that kit eventually will be available to other handset providers as well, Honeybone said.

^ view source

Microsoft chose to work with Nokia because it has the largest market share of mobile phones, but it will sign on with other handset makers to create ports of Silverlight, Case said.

All the main features of Silverlight, including video and interactive Web application development, will be included in all mobile versions.

But there will be some device-specific restraints, which means Microsoft will create editions of Silverlight for different mobile platforms, he said.

^ view source

Support for S40 platform is great move. So, Nokia making Silverlight to their own proprietary S40 platform means other companies can do it as well = more number of devices from mid-level to high-end smartphones.

Microsoft is now looking quite aggressive with Silverlight strategy, which is a good sign. Its always good to have competition.

My thoughts about Flash Lite and Silverlight Mobile

Adobe Flash Lite is here for long time, but it has been moving forward really slow. We have seen three updates to Flash Lite from 2003, but all the updates focused on performance and memory management, except from Flash Lite 1.x to 2, which added AS1/2 support.

Flash Lite is implemented in deferent modes. Which include wallpaper, screensaver, MMI/Phone menu system (Man Machine Interface, only available to OEMs), and standalone. The standalone implementation is something which offer developers to make applications and casual games, but its very much limited with access to device specific functions, like simple File I/O.

Recently released Flash Lite 3 adds FLV video support, but it adds limitation for application to be local-only or network-only. Applications made for Flash Lite 1.1 and 2 which use network fails silently on Flash Lite 3.

The other limitation is Flash Lite player available from Adobe is for developers “only”. Developers cannot distribute it with their games / applications or suggest users to download from Adobe’s website. They have to wait for a year or so, for devices to come with pre-installed version of Flash Lite that application requires.

Adobe have two big products (Flash Cast and Flash Home) which are based on same Flash Lite technology, but targeted towards mobile operators. Not available to developers, even for development.

For what I see is, Flash Lite standalone was developed to prepare developers for Flash Cast and Flash Home products. Flash Lite does not feature proper pack-and-distribute system, like J2ME, PyS60 and now Nokia’s WRT have. But there are solutions like SWF2Go, to tackle that.

Microsoft is coming from behind, and they have been learning from mistakes Macromedia/Adobe made in past. Silverlight Mobile can learn a lot from J2ME and Adobe’s Flash Lite *experiment*.

In another article, I found that Silverlight will eventually come as offline as well, just like AIR. So, we can expect an offline version of Silverlight Mobile as well.

I’m now waiting for the beta version of Silverlight Mobile *runtime* to see what it have to offer for developers.

This post looks a bit anti-Adobe, but its a fact that I’m a long-time Flash / Flash Lite developer and I hope Adobe could see what I have been trying to highlight here :)

// chall3ng3r //

Microsoft’s answer to free Adobe Flex. The DreamSpark!

Microsoft has recently been quite active with big announcements, updates to developer tools and Windows OS.

On Monday, MS announced they will give away VS, Expression and Windows Server absolutely FREE to students worldwide.

Read more here, and here.

Very impressive move to get crowd stick to MS, seems quite workable idea :)

Adobe also recently made available Adobe Flex Builder free to students. MS following the same idea making it head-on competition for RIA development tools.

Microsoft is very good with getting their technology to masses quickly. And they’ve proven record of it. For example, MS .Net Framework. They made it available to public in early beta, released comprehensive SDK with documentation. And did not charged developers to ship .Net runtime with their applications.

Giving away Expression and VS2008 will also boost Silverlight adoption rapidly. More Silverlight applications means, greater number of users downloading Silverlight runtime daily.

Lets see how it goes.

// chall3ng3r //

I wish AIR could host Silverlight as well :)

I have been keeping my eyes open for latest developments on Silverlight and AIR.


I just read Daniel’s post about AIR is not a competitor to Silverlight, well that’s correct. Also, Flex is not a direct competitor as well. Its just about client runtimes, Flash and Silverlight, which actually renders content in browser and provide APIs to developers to create interactive experiences.

AIR can run Flash and AJAX based applications on desktop, which is great. I think it will be awesome if AIR could also host Silverlight applications.

Silverlight v1.0, released a few days back, renders XAML for content and provides APIs for creating interactions via JavaScript. And it run in WebKit based Safari browser as well.

I have pretty bad experience getting my words to Adobe (formerly Macromedia). So I hope they will get my wish from my blog :)

// chall3ng3r //

Silverlight, the Flash killer is here!

Finally Microsoft released Silverlight v1.0 to masses. Before 5 Sep 2007, only developers were using it. it had 0% penetration on Internet connected systems. Lets see how it goes.

Also, there is new update of Silverlight 1.1 alpha.

I’m really excited about this new technology. As i love to R&D, i will surely give it a try. i already have some ideas where to use it ;)

// chall3ng3r //

Silverlight vs Flash, a comparison

I noticed this nice comparison, where Silverlight is actually compared with its correct counterpart, the Flash Player, rather than Flex.

I don’t call it that accurate as it misinforms about some features of Flash, but it worth a look.

don’t forget to read my comments over there, and post yours if you like :)

// chall3ng3r //

Silverlight: better right-click

Microsoft is improving Silverlight in every new release. the new thing i noticed from many others, is a better version information for currently installed Silverlight runtime through right-click context menu. It shows complete version info including build numbers. User can also set Silverlight Update options under the Updates tab.


Adobe Flash only shows major version number when you right-click on Flash content. When you click About Flash Player 9, it opens new browser window and redirect you to a page which contains a Flash movie and JS code to detect and show the Flash Player version. Its a bit lengthy process i suppose.

// chall3ng3r //