Windows Developers Struggling With Mobile Apps

Windows developers are receiving an ever-greater number of requests for mobile apps. However, they are struggling to meet that mobile demand with current tools and skills, while also meeting expectations to support and enhance of existing desktop applications.

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Tue, September 17, 2013

CIO — Windows developers are feeling the demand for mobile apps, but they say their current tools and skills are preventing them from delivering those apps.

Windows Developers Struggling With Mobile Apps

Adding to the pressure, the demand for mobile apps is layered upon the expectation that developers will continue to support and enhance existing applications.

Those sentiments are echoed in a survey of 1,337 developers with responsibility for Windows desktop applications conducted last month by market research specialist Dimensional Research. The research was sponsored by Embarcadero Technologies, a vendor of database tools and development software.

Windows Developers Lack Confidence in Ability to Meet Mobile Demand

Dimensional Research found that while Windows developers are experiencing great demand for mobile applications—85 percent of respondents said they'd received requests for mobile apps—they lack confidence in their ability to meet that demand.

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Survey respondents said they feel existing mobile development tools are costly and complex, alternate solutions (like JavaScript and HTML5) fail to meet user experience requirements and the need to continue supporting existing apps limits their ability to develop the new skills required.

"Windows developers clearly see the need to bring their deep experience with applications development to mobile applications," says Diane Hagglund, senior researcher at Dimensional Research. "Today's development options either limit the end user or result in costly and complex native development across multiple platforms. These Windows developers clearly need better options."

Users Have High Expectations for Mobile Apps

Developers told Dimensional Research that most end users expect business apps to be available in some form on their smartphones and tablets. Sixty-five percent want at least partial functionality from an existing desktop app, while 43 percent want the entire functionality of a desktop app on their mobile app. In addition, 58 percent of Windows developers say they have fielded requests for entirely new mobile applications.

And user expectations of these apps are high: Windows developers who have received requests for these mobile apps say 54 percent of end users expect the simple mobile app experience they have come to expect from consumer mobile applications, even for very complex applications.

In addition, 51 percent of Windows developers say end users believe that all desktop functionality can be made to work as a mobile app, even on devices with limited capabilities. Also, 45 percent of Windows developers who have received requests for mobile applications say end users want the mobile apps to support every mobile platform on the market.

"Apple just insanely raised the bar in 2007," says Steve Haney, senior director of product marketing at Embarcadero. "Users now have very high expectations for user experience. Stuff just has to work now, and it has to be elegant and it has to be fun. At the same time, we can't just leave the past behind. We have to support what we've built."

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