I prefer Windows Apps to Web Apps. While I’m all for web-apps (and I use gmail near exclusively for my email) I still prefer Windows apps. Perhaps because I am currently in India and nearly all connections have huge latency making web-apps a lot more annoying. I think people will start to rent servers in India making Indian data-centers more valuable over time and perhaps helping lower bandwidth pricing for everyone. Go mass market!

BTW: If you wanna serve web-apps to India, put ’em in your London data centers. LDN is closer than NYK. Ping times to LA probably are similar since packets go via SGP -> TKY -> LA … but nothing beats the BOM -> UAE -> LDN speeds. Reliance Flag beats Tata Teleglobe hands down. Go RCOM!

File Storage: Windows Live (SkyDrive), Google Docs, Roll your own (Amazon S3 and equivalents including Google Storage for Developers beta), Box.net etc

I never really got around to creating a box.net account though I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Could be they really are good or could be that that they have a very good social media management team. Somehow, I’m not terribly excited. I use a lot of disk. I need terabytes and I don’t think box.net is trying to service customers like me.

I don’t really like any of the alternatives at the moment. Sometimes I think JungleDisk + S3 will do the trick, but then again, S3 means that it is not really possible to copy deltas. You have to copy the whole file across even if you change just one miserable byte. There is some kind of commercial service at rsync.net that would probably work, but then, they’re charging more than 50 cents/GB/mo. So that won’t work either.

I think I have the perfect storage solution – and there’s an empty space here — but it’s going to be a lot of work to develop. If you are a VC looking for new ideas, contact me!

I currently use Roll my own, with a Sharepoint based WebDAV shared “drive”, backed by a Kimsufi.co.uk server. Can’t get cheaper than kimsufi though you do have to buy in chunks of 1Tb. Easy-peasy to install Proxmox or VMWare though, so you can install your choice of Windows + “app server”. I suppose I could try OpenFiler, but then again I think it’d really be useful only for people with high bandwidth, low latency links. I have “medium” bandwidth – 2Mbps/high latency. I suppose over time I will get higher bandwidth, but unless I find a cheap’ish datacenter in India, there isn’t any way to get around the latency issues.

Backup: I also pay for a Mozy.com account. Mozy rocks for Windows clients. Mostly, till you decide to restore and find it is slower than molasses. Really. Slow. SugarSync rocks too (or so I’ve heard)… I’ve heard a lot of “small medium” businesses are moving to Mozy/Druvaa. I don’t like Vembu’s offering but they seem to have some traction too.

(Update 1 – June – 2012: Dropbox is the winner!)

Music Management: iTunes, Windows Media Player, WinAmp ….

iTunes is getting bloated. Wish there was iTunes light. Still works nice (though very slow) has a decent COM API and is supported by millions of third party apps. And you don’t have to jailbreak/fsck around with your iToys … though you do hate Apple every time you use it. Like for example, when syncing photos to my iPad, why the fsck do I have to delete existing photos when syncing to a new computer? I own my photos. They’re not MP3s <which also I own:)>. I hates you Apple. Still there’s safety in numbers. Millions of iPads being sold. Sure to be plenty of third-party development. Linux drivers. You know…

However, a really complete Windows solution needs:

ffmpeg, Media Player Classic – HomeCinema, xvid, Quicktime Alternative, Real Alternative and Songbird (or other open source) to really work well. There’s just nothing in the purely commercial space that meets my needs.

Social Information Overload Management:
Nutshellmail, Gist, Ping.fm, Pidgin, Twhirl, UberTwitter and the “many” many RSS readers and aggregators out there …

Google Reader (which replaces StumbleUpon for me) + NutshellMail + Ping.Fm + Gmail + Rapportive + Pidgin is my choice du jour. I think Google has all the pieces now and could oneday soon, create an app that works with IMAP/RSS/ATOM/NNTP/TWITTER/FACEBOOK and like the magic ring “binds them all”. Wave isn’t it.

Not even sure there is competition in this category. A lot of people love Gist. I don’t.

I think a Pidgin client with twitter + facebook + lnkd.in + other apps would rock. Perhaps one written in C# though. C# on Mono (ie !Windows.Forms) if you swing that way.
Photo Management: Picasa/Flickr/Windows Live Gallery/iPhoto…

This is one category with a clear winner. At least for me. Picasa it is.

It’s a combination Windows App + WebApp unlike the other contenders. This does mean that only the first “sniff” is free (ie you only get so much free disk space, after which you have to pay).

Flickr is probably the most popular in this category (sez wakoopa) but I like Picasa because it’s also got a real Windows app that is beautiful, fast, smooth and integrates brilliantly well with Windows. Picasa is available for Linux too. Not sure about Macs, assume it is available.

In terms of usage charges, Picasa is probably amongst the lowest cost. Something like 10 cents/GB/month. USD 20 gets you 80GB for a year.

 

Development : Eclipse? Visual Studio? MonoDevelop? SharpDevelop? Argh.

Nothing is a clear Winner. VS2K8 rocked. VS2K10 sux (well its really good, but really slow. You need a machine that can run Crysis at 50 fps).

I think the language of the future is Javascript. Everything will be JS + PHP. Even local apps. C# 4.0 with “dynamic typing” is close, but no cigar. C++ is for masochists and banksters who like to complicate everything…(and in turn have developed an incurable passion for obfuscated everything – balance sheets, term sheets, derivatives, employment contracts, etc)

I’ve been using LINQPad more and more these days because it loads so much faster than VS2K10.

 (Solved the VS2K10 speed issues with a new SSD. Time to start hating VS2K12)

 

Office / Productivity: MS Office, Open Office, Google Docs, Zoho?

OpenOffice is not a patch on MS Office. Google Docs is still in the “getting there” stage. And it’s not really free anymore. You kinda have to pay cuz this feature or that is only available to “premium” and “educational” users. And that makes it worse than a pirated <— err borrowed –> copy of Office. So I think Office wins and will keep winning for the near future. I’ve had “free” copies of Office (courtesy MSDN subscriptions from employers, universities and the like) most of my life, but even so I’m beginning to wonder if it is worth even the near “zero” cost.

I think the Office Web-Apps are a disaster. Even with a decent JS engine the OneNote WebApp is slooooow. The Word WebApp is hobbled to the point that it can’t even create tables. And the need for Sharepoint + a Windows Server to run it on just makes the whole setup “hopelessly” expensive. Powerpoint renders well but who cares? Slideshare renders well enough for me.

Perhaps, perhaps, there will be an offline Google Docs effort? Something like Picasa? A combination web-app + windows app? Hope lives eternal and all that.

Onenote/Evernote/Something else?

Something else. Evernote is good, but I want more. I want the OneNote experience with the ability to embed activex/COM and JS. I want to embed Excel. And Word. And other docs. And really embed, where they become part of the DOM. For example, if I have a table on a OneNote page …. Why can’t I stick an Excel function in it? Why can’t the table (secretly) be a Excel sheet? Then I could use some of the kewl Excel-Addins to do kewl stuff.

Tomboy may get there someday. If I was to place bets…..I’d say tomboy, but for now OneNote. Unless there’s a sudden crush of developers TomBoy is going to take ages ….

Evernote… just not sure… it’s good’ish. Works on Blackberry’s, IPads and what have you’s. But, there’s something about the editor. It’s good’ish not great. I like the OneNote integration with Windows Text Services and Windows Automation. I love the depth of “Ink” Support. I heart the magic “autocorrections” and the reasonable heuristic based guess about what I’m trying to do. I mean I like that pressing TAB will do the right thing most of the times (like indent a para or bulleted list, or create a new table…). It kinda reminds me of the commandline.

Just wish OneNote used more of Word’s editing, embedding and programmability.

 

Windows / Suse / Ubuntu / Mac OS ?

Windows for now. Suse is a close second. Give it another 5 years. And short MSFT in the meantime if you have SIPP that you don’t intend to touch till you retire 😉 (et plus since any profits you make will be denominated in USD, you’ll need to swap your USD for INR every now and then)

Reliance/Vodafone/Airtel/MTNL/Tata/Other?

If you’re in Mumbai and use a Berry and are willing to live with CDMA –> Reliance. Just no competition here.

If you’re anywhere else in India –> Vodafone (which strangely isn’t dying. I’ve been predicting its collapse for years now. Like they say the markets can stay irrational far longer than you can stay solvent. I wonder where they’re funding the enormous losses they’re surely making in India, in Africa etc? I haven’t looked at a Voda balance-sheet recently, but surely someone must’ve noticed the “massaging”? Even in their home-turf, in the UK, I’d bet on ‘3’.)
 

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