Who’s got the right strategy for uniting content across desktop and mobile devices? (And who’s utterly failing?)
Wired explains Microsoft’s strategy in drawing on mobile experiences for Windows 8, and how that differs from Apple’s:
Now that Apple’s offered a sneak preview of OS X Mountain Lion, we can begin to compare it with that other new operating system coming later this year, Windows 8. In particular, we can see how both OSes draw inspiration from, and aim to integrate with, mobile devices. Each OS faces the same basic challenge, but approaches the problem with different strategies.
It’s partly a function of circumstance. Because of the popularity of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Apple has a much stronger market position in mobile than in desktop. Microsoft’s position is reversed, and then some: Windows and even Xbox are much mightier than Windows Phone….
Now, in some ways, Apple is more cautious than Microsoft. Precisely because it’s been so successful in mobile, and because it has a stronger need to present a coherent product line, Apple needs to keep desktop, mobile and tablet computing sharply defined. It’s tying all three together through its software services, but the form factors and physical interfaces of its devices remain quite different.
Microsoft can unify its software line, then turn it over to hardware partners that can create a huge range of devices, from a mobile phone to a desktop tower and everything in between. For example, Microsoft can offer Windows 8 for both Intel and ARM, and manufacturers will produce tablets and netbooks for both platforms that otherwise look more or less identical.
Mozilla launched a new project last year called Boot2Gecko (B2G) with the aim of developing a mobile operating system. The platform’s user interface and application stack will be built entirely with standards-based web technologies and will run on top of Gecko, the HTML rendering engine used in the Firefox web browser. The B2G project has advanced at a rapid pace this year and the platform is beginning to take shape….
The B2G project is off to an impressive start. The underlying concept of bringing native application capabilities to the standards-based web technology stack is also tremendously compelling. It hints at the possibility that the open web could someday provide a unified application platform for mobile devices.
It’s also worth noting that the project is entirely open. As Eich pointed out to us yesterday in response to our coverage of Open webOS, the B2G project has had open governance and public source code since its first day. B2G also benefits from Mozilla’s engineering talent and potential partners. The B2G platform has an opportunity to bring positive disruption to the mobile landscape and be a serious contender.
Not to be left out, Adobe has been releasing new tools for mobile developers at an impressive rate. The latest, Shadow, helps you test Web sites on multiple devices.
Though it’s still a beta release, Shadow may well be the most useful thing Adobe has ever built for web developers, particularly those that have embraced responsive design. It’s no secret that, while responsive design allows developers to easily target a wide range of screen sizes, it adds a considerable amount of work to the development process. But with Shadow mirroring your website across dozens of devices at the same time, testing becomes simple and easy. It’s a bit like synchronized swimming for web browsers. You can even debug and make changes directly in Chrome and then see the results on each device.
Sure, you could ignore how your mobile site runs on different devices–but then you might end up on this painful gallery of mobile failures:
The problem isn’t any one person. The problem is that we’ve all been doing this thing called Making a Website for a long time in a particular way. And now everything is changing. Sure some developers are resistant to learning new things, but most developers are interested, excited and willing. But this isn’t a problem that you can fix by just switching out which bit of code to use. It’s bigger than that. Content strategy, design, business all have to change.
Failed LinkedIn page via WTF Mobile Web.