Smurf on 2011

My 2010 predictions were a little tame I think, so I’m going to go more out on a limb this time around. I’ve covered a broader area this time too. I normally limit myself to spreadsheets and software, I’ve had a pop at some more general stuff this time.

IT Market

  1. Google will overtake Microsoft in market capitalisation (190 v 240 currently)
  2. MS won’t bid for Adobe.
  3. MS is fading fast as a general brand, especially with consumers, this will continue and probably accelerate
  4. Apple will pick up most of that consumer mind share in computing and software.
  5. I think someone might bid for HP this year, possibly Oracle if they can digest Sun in time. I don’t see too much anti competitive hassle from this and Larry has been softening them up with body blows for a few months
  6. Yahoo will surely disappear, I’m not sure how they survived this long
  7. Once people get bored of facebooking about facebook surely it will do a myspace?
  8. Linux won’t do much in 2011, I really thought netbooks would do it 2009/2010, but I was wrong. I don’t see a better chance in 2011. Tablets? I’m not convinced this time around.


  1. Phone and tablet software will be massive in consumerland. iOS and Android (and Blackberry), not Windows phone.
  2. PC consumer software will be a non story (in the general media)
  3. MS Office is in a death spin where no one understands the value it can generate so no one invests so no one discovers. MS will continue to fail dismally to market Office. They will cut marketing spend so they will send less of the wrong messages to the wrong people.
  4. Quite a few corps will start to migrate to O2010 in 2011 as many skipped 2007 and 2003 will be 2 years out of mainstream support. They won’t leverage many of the new features though, as its ‘just Office’ not an integrated part of strategic IT infrastructure like it should be. (message/people…)
  5. I think Windows 7 may be due for deployment in a lots of companies too.

Office development

  1. We will still be undervalued.
  2. We will still be loved by users and loathed by IT, who will continue to prevent us from using the best tools for the job.
  3. Office will continue to be userland so VBA still key, although job ads will request a knowledge of C#, but then not let you have Visual Studio.
  4. Microsoft will still not have a plausible .net/Excel development story. VSTO isn’t it
  5. .net developers will continue to abuse Excel as they don’t understand the object model or native code.
  6. Access will still be looked down on as a zero credibility toy – an image which hampers SharePoint uptake as Access is a million times better for managing lists than the 1970’s web UI. I’m currently calling my Access development Jet development to avoid raising the Access Alert.
  7. Office 15 Beta 1 will probably make it out of the door before the end of the year. Expect the ribbon to be nearly as good as 2003 toolbars, lots of unusable lock-in to server components that corps won’t deploy. Beefed up power features like cluster udfs in 2010 (perhaps performant .net udfs???). More eye candy cabbage/inappropriate intra suite standardisation. Closer Excel/Access integration may be on the cards, even as many corps seek to ban Access altogether, it may cheat death once again.
  8. Plenty more vacuous ‘spreadsheet control’ projects will start in 2011, although most will be tick box half hearted affairs. The crash knocked a bit of the wind out of the compliance gravy train sails. (can I mix methaphors like that?)
  9. there will be plenty of opportunities in financial services for folks with Excel/VBA/business – this market is hotting up after being depressed for 18 months or so – so many devs will have moved on.
  10. LibreOffice will continue where OpenOffice once went as the leading Office competitor, before Oracle alienated the whole dev community. Still won’t be much of a competitor though, sadly. OpenOffice will be gone by the end of 2011 imo, at least ‘gone’ like StarOffice.

General development

  1. Java will lose some light as it has been scuttled by Oracle, I think this will cause more of a general splinter rather than a mass migration to .net for example. Ruby, Python etc will likely be winners on the web/server, but maybe C++ will find some love, it has done with MS in VS2010.
  2. Or maybe there will be an unbreakable Oracle Java?
  3. Silverlight is doomed, so VS2012 might be useable. Silverlight is the Access of UI. MS just don’t know what to do with it. Smart devs will steer clear till they decide. Gone by 2012 imo.
  4. Objective C will probably be a worthwhile skill in 2011 (not a great synergy with VBA though :))
  5. F# will get plenty of buzz, but not a lot of actual traction, just because OO is inappropriate for whole swathes of software doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply engrained (as the ‘correct/best/professional’ way of developing anything)


  1. Well derr – tablets will be a big news story in 2010
  2. Netbooks will be replaced by tablets, in news, if not physically.
  3. The march to smartphones will make iPhone/Android/Blackberry development a very viable business model, especially compared to banging your head against the office dev wall.
  4. If the Ubuntu Tablet appears I’ll buy one ASAP.

I try not to be a ‘Microsoft watcher’ blogger partly because lots of people already do that, and partly because its hard to hit the right tone between sycophant (I earn my living in their tech after all) and irrelevant moaner.  But…


  1. MS is in a cost control phase at the moment. That means every investment/spend needs justifying.
  2. Plenty of possibly viable techs have been axed after massive investment over the past few years
  3. some of those have been brave (or mad – depends your pov) decisions
  4. This means very little is unquestionably safe – its perceived cost benefits, financially, ruthlessly.
  5. I think MS have lost the consumer space so they will focus more on the enterprise (which seems to work well for Oracle for example).
  6. Tight Office/.net integration? cost? benefit in increased unit sales income? – unlikely then…
  7. Windows phone? If it goes well in the next 6-12m then maybe, if not its out. Microsoft could exit this whole market with no obvious income loss (short term at least). (imo gone by 2012)
  8. Silverlight? compelling benefits or the next VB script? (imo gone by 2012)
  9. VSTO? essential .net/Office bridge? unfinishable unloved bodge? (imo VSTO will survive for a while as it joins a couple of cash cows)
  10. VBA? trusty workhorse? or poor implementation of a bad design? (imo safe as houses, there will be nothing that could be construed as a hint of retirement plans for this utterly vital (to MS) tech. Unless you take the complete lack of investment and development of the IDE as a hint of future plans of course)
  11. VSTA? remember that? VS editor in Office. Hmmm… I really don’t know if better .net/Office is coming to Office, If you pushed me I would say no, I don’t think O15 will have an integrated C# IDE.


  1. No double dip recession (if anyone thinks we are out of the last one yet) just a slow (er than reported) creeping recovery.
  2. 2011 will, in line with solar physicist predictions (again), be colder than 2010 by any reasonable measure.
  3. The Urban Heat Island effect will get some attention to try to explain the gaping void between what global warming ‘scientists’ say and what normal people see and feel.
  4. We will see more climate comedy – where a council or org has made a big business decision based on promises of global warming, only to be totally shafted by actual weather. Step forward Geneva canton and Lytham council – both allegedly sold their snow clearing equipment in recent years then struggled last winter and this winter. (could we include Heathrow?)(we can take UK road salt supplies as a consistent snafu.)
  5. Financial market volatility will increase, especially on the down side as algorithmic trading gets more aggressive safety cut outs.
  6. 2011 will be even more fad-tastic than 2010, game shows, reality tv, shit music, phone apps, blankets with sleeves…
  7. No big UK bank failures
  8. Another couple of Euro zone rescue plans will be required, someone might even notice the state of the UK economy.
  9. A Euro will almost certainly be worth more than a pound, although they are both in a race to the bottom at the moment.
  10. More intrusive security pantomime mischief will make air travel even more unpleasant but no more secure.
  11. Did I mention that spreadsheet development will still not be cool?

That’s about it for now, I need to go out mountain biking now the snow has melted. Sorry this is so long!

What do you see as the big news stories of the next 12m?

All the best for 2011



17 Responses to “Smurf on 2011”

  1. Gordon Says:

    “ will request a knowledge of C#, but then not let you have Visual Studio.”

    “..Access Alert.”

    Too true, too true :)

  2. Marcus from London Says:

    “…although job ads will request a knowledge of C#, but then not let you have Visual Studio…”

    ROFL – absolutely. My colleague at a major IB requested a new PC (actually he requested a RAM upgrade but the box was considered too old to upgrade).
    After haggling with Client Services to ensure all his custom software would be included on the new box (VS2008, SQL/Oracle clients, XML Spy etc) it turned up with a plain vanilla SOE.
    Oh yes, getting VS2008 et al would take another 6 weeks.

    “…Plenty more vacuous ‘spreadsheet control’ projects will start in 2011…”

    Yup, partially involved in a £3M project now. Prior IB had a £120M project (I kid you not) going.

    “…plenty of opportunities in financial services for folks with Excel/VBA/business… after being depressed for 18 months…many devs will have moved on.”

    Yes, yes and more yes. If I may add some condiments to the above. Business / domain knowledge an absolute must (unless you want to be relegated to B.O. doing trade amendments. And also C# – the number of contracts requiring C# + VBA is increasing. Put another way – your ability to get away with VBA alone is rapidly declining. Let’s add a dash of pepper – WPF is gaining momentum in the IB market (far more than Silverlight) so XAML knowledge is an added bonus.

    “.net developers will continue to abuse Excel as they don’t understand the object model or native code.”

    I got “C# in Front Office” (and the sequel). While a good start, I was looking for something more in depth and with more meat.

    “F# will get plenty of buzz, but not a lot of actual traction”
    Agree – there’s been plenty of sizzle but no sausage.

    “Netbooks will be replaced by tablets, in news, if not physically.”
    Still waiting for a decent replacement for my Acer netbook.

    “Windows phone? ”

    It’s been too little, too late. Happy with my Samsung Galaxy S.

    “VBA? …imo safe as houses”
    Well yes and no. VBA will be around for a while but is in visible decline. More and more VBA development will either be maintenance or as an office-orientated portion of a bigger project.
    For example, current project uses VBA TO automate reporting and provide Q&D access to data. The majority of the project is in SQL Server, C# and WPF.

    “VSTA? remember that?”
    Nope. Rest my case yr’Honour.

    “global warming”
    In case you hadn’t noticed, they’re now calling it ‘climate change’ to hedge their bets which ever direction the mercury goes.

    “Did I mention that spreadsheet development will still not be cool?”
    sigh, yes. Except with the end users who benefit.

  3. Harlan Grove Says:

    Too pessimistic about MSFT’s prospects, but not pessimistic enough about Office development. The era of departmental development in large organizations is over. The era of recentralization is in full swing. Excel and Access don’t support IT/IS empire-building, so with development spending evolving toward centralized and exclusive IT/IS control, Office development is where saddle and bridle makers were in 1911: some highly specialized work available for some time to come, but the market ain’t ever again gonna be what it was.

    To me MSFT’s prospects seem to rely on 3 sectors: Windows Phone, which I just can’t see MSFT becoming #2, moving ahead of either iOS or Android, and MSFT can’t get enough growth from being #3 (and it ain’t clear they’ll pass Blackberry); tablets, where I can see MSFT coming out with US$10 or cheaper crippled Windows OEM SKUs if they need to, but unlikely it’d be good enough relative to iPad and Android tablets; leveraging Kinect technology — there’s got to be a big potential market for highly refined motion sensing and artificial vision — why MSFT hasn’t become a 1st tier defense contractor for this tech rather than Windows on the battlefield is a mystery.

    As for the greater economy, maybe 2011 will become the year governments will come to realize the choice is only between some true failure/insolvency/ruin and all-poor-together. Only a real chance of ruin will discipline markets. I think the Germans already understand this. If both Spain and Italy go the way of Greece and Ireland, I can see the re-emergence of the D-Mark but maybe not the death of the Euro. The Euro would become the currency of countries which can’t be trusted to manage their own finances, a 180 from its original purpose.

  4. dougaj4 Says:

    First I’d heard about the goings on at Open Office.

    Is this an opportunity for Gnumeric?

    As for climate change, there is no ” gaping void between what global warming ‘scientists’ say and what normal people see and feel”, the void is between what climate scientists say and what the media reports (and one cold N Hemisphere winter does not make a climate).

  5. Martin Says:

    Not just the winter but the year

  6. Charles Williams Says:

    My Office 2011 predictions:
    1. increasing use of Excel 2010-64 despite Microsoft’s advice, but the majority of 2010 users will still be 32-bit
    2. Continued absence of any sensible Office .Net tools from MSoft will lead to strong takeup of Addin Express and Excel DNA
    3. 50% chance of better .Net integration in Office 15, driven by the need for better commonality between Excel services/Excel cloud and client Excel.
    4. First Office 15 beta will appear in 1H 2012
    5. PowerPivot API in Office 15

  7. Bob Phillips Says:

    You talked about BI/OLAP in your 2010 review, but not here. One critical tool for MS is SQL Server. MS have a great product there, maybe not as widespread as Oracle, but does better across the functional board than any competitor. In SSAS they have a fantastic tool, and in PowerPivot they added an interesting twist. But … do MS get over-excited by their own hype? What are they doing with SSAS? Are they looking to destroy it on the back of perceived happenings with solid state disks?

  8. Simon Says:

    Glad to see the VBA/C# story is so broadly true (not because its good thing – just because it reinforces what I have seen and heard).

    Marcus, good points as usual, you are right about VBA from a customer POV, I was actually thinking from an MS pov. But yes I agree orgs are moving away as fast as they can on whatever trumped up excuses they can get away with.

    Harlan, I like the 3 pillars, but I don’t see any of them being a runaway success to replace Office or Windows. Yeah I guess we are saddle makers, trouble is users still act like the are riding horses (lucky luke comes to mind, but thats a different topic).

    Doug I dunno about Gnumeric, they seem to be happily ticking along, but the big distros look to be backing LibreOffice, maybe they just can’t leave the suite idea alone.

    Martin – not one winter, several, No idea how many it would take for some folks to accept the sun has a tad more impact on climate than plant food. As the hot, the cold, the wet and the dry are all apparently caused by man made global warming there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to disprove it.

    Charles, all good points too, I agree Add-in Express and ExcelDNA will have a good 2011. I wish I understood the Excel services story, I can think of tons of immediate applications, but their licensing makes it unuseable. Hopefully they will address that in O15, like they eventually did with the separate VSTO 2005 SKU (included in VS2008).

    Bob, yeah BI is such a non story it slipped my mind. By SSAS I thought you meant software and services, their previous obsession, and my initial reply was today they are unhealthily obsessed by the cloud and SaS is so last year. But then I realised you meant analysis services, a superb product that they seem to have forgotten about (apart from the annual renaming of course). Oracle obviously think OLAP has legs otherwise they wouldnt have bought Hyperion, I wish I know why MS don’t push this harder.

  9. Bob Phillips Says:

    It is more than that Simon. If I understand BISM properly(and I accept that I may be missing it) but they seem to be moving away from OLAP cubes to more of a PowerPivot relational model. Presumably, they hope that SSD will make this fast, MS hop as fast as SASS, but just think how fast SSAS would be on SSD. Why not invest in a success story? I don’t get it.

  10. Harlan Grove Says:

    re BI/S*A*S* — oversimplifying hugely, it’s all variations on what Lotus Improv used to do. That product failed because it required specialists to use it well. PowerPivot seems to be heading in the same direction.

  11. Bob Phillips Says:

    @Harlan, sometimes you just have to accept that some things do require specialists

  12. Bob Phillips Says:

    BTW Simon, isn’t the cloud just a ‘sexy’ way of marketing SaS?

  13. Marcus from London Says:

    @Bob while that may be true to a point (specialists, that is) one of the appeals of VBA is that it is very accesible to business users. The average finance guy can whip up something (rudimentary) without interacting with that dang IT dept. Technologies such as .Net, C# and WPF have a steeper learning curve and, as development environments, are typically banned for business users in many companies.

    Hence having that sense of control sometimes drive business’ decisions in deciding what technologies to adopt (if that have that level of decision making that is)

  14. Bob Phillips Says:


    I am with you on this, and I have always believed that access to immediate technology such as VBA has been hugely beneficial to business (far outweighing the problems of spreadsheet hell IMO). But there are some technologies that are just not immediate enough for business to be able to master in their available time when they still have the day-job, and so it it best to leave these to specialists. Such an example IMO is the creation of OLAP cubes using SSAS, but the resultant cubes should still be immediately available to the business,otherwsise why bother creating them? Such applications can add immensely to the business armoury, so the users should not dismiss trhem, but of course the specialists have to be reactive, understanding that some solutions must be delivered in weeks or even days, not in months.

    The trick of course is to have good working environments, where the specialists and the users cooperate effectively and efficiently for the good of the business. Unfortunately, in far too many companies, it doesn’t work that way; the specialists think the users are ill-disciplined and are responsible for the uncontrolled proliferation of data and applications; the users think that the specialists are unresponsive, far more concerned with strategies and methodologies than with delivering effective solutions. The reality of course is that they are both right, and they are both wrong. I used to work in the IT department of a large financial company, and as one who had empathy for user needs (I was once told in my annual appraisal that I was …’too close to the users’ … sic!), I could see both sides. Unfortunately, I had no great ideas to get the two areas working together.

  15. Harlan Grove Says:

    re IT Market #4, see

    And that article is about desktops. If MSFT can’t even hold onto the PC market (and I mean hold by both throat and naughty bits, which they have up to now), then no matter how good Windows Phones and XBox Kinnects may be, MSFT won’t regain #1 in market capitalization.

    Any of the rest of you done any Excel development specifically for Macs? Or do most large organizations which run Excel on Macs do so running Windows versions of Excel under Boot Camp or Parallels?

  16. Simon Says:

    MS is never going back to number one, its just how long before Google, Oracle and maybe even IBM overtake them. prediction: by the end of 2011 Apple will be at least twice the mkt cap of MS, Goog and Ora will be bigger than MS.

    I have never done Excel Mac dev work, but my mac book is my main non win dev pc. I run Ununtu in Fusion and its really very good.

  17. Harlan Grove Says:


    I’m the last person to suggest using spreadsheets on small screens (and to me even 10″ is small), but connect a tablet to a projector or an electronic whiteboard and you have a reasonable display platform.

    All that’s missing on non-Office systems is decent scripting. And with spreadsheets getting less and less love, that’s becoming less and less of a selling point.

    The average white collar employee will have a computer (i.e., something with keyboard and mouse as primary input devices) on their desk for years to come, but I can see really senior people getting by with a smartphone and their PAs carrying large tablets for them. And I can also see in a few years most conference rooms having bluetooth electronic whiteboards to which smartphones and tablets can connect as needed and use for large displays. Windows/Office is becoming the platform for lower level white collar employees. If you will, managers will run Android, creative types OS X, and those not paid to think for themselves Windows.

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