May 26, 2013 - 4 minute read

A Windows "QuickStart"

I paid Swish $25 and $8 shipping for this two months ago. I think I had my share donated to the Khan Academy.

The box

It’s the “Windows Quickstart Kit for Mac Developers”. It includes:

  • A full Windows 8 Pro license
  • A Parallels Desktop license
  • A USB Stick with an ISO on it with a real Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity. Genuine Windows!

I’m not sure why Microsoft saw fit to spend two months packaging a “quickstart”. Why Microsoft did not see fit to provide this quickstart through digital distribution is beyond me. They could have emailed a link to some keys and ISOs and maybe even let a distributor like Digital River do this. Instead, they saw fit to contract this work out to a physical media distribution company. It seems with these charity-ware deals that the best way to donate money is to allocate a large chunk to some physical distributor.

I’m so stoked to try and develop for Windows Phone. I’m going to virtualize Windows 8 and develop a native app for a platform on which I have no way to run natively. I’m also going to jump over some chairs in celebration.

Nuh uh, virtualization is cheating and is really anti-dogfood. If I have to boot up a RAM hungry OS to RUN the app, it’s a failure. If I have to develop the app inside a virtualized OS, that would be even more of a failure since I would have to bear with the performance and non-nativeness penalty. There’s no way a good app can come out with so many barriers like that. Google realized that its Eclipse toolkit was a problem and switched to IntelliJ IDEA to reduce their barriers and gain an awesome IDE in the meantime. I highly doubt Microsoft will provide a free cross-platform and light SDK. The technical barriers are just too high. It’s totally not like their Xbox where game developers are used to putting up with shit like that. Mobile developers are in general more finicky and prefer native tools. I’m not sure if this is still the case now but the Android team saw fit at one point to maintain the Android compilation toolchain for the entire OS on OS X. You can compile a Linux system on OS X!

With that said, this cool cardboard box is all that remains. It would be well designed if it never existed. It’s way too late for that though.

It’s made up of two big pieces. After ripping off the plastic wrapper, there’s a windows logo cutout sleeve thing to keep the box with a flap closed. It’s a pretty retail package for something that is only sold online.

two pieces

When you open the box, you have a welcome card with some very basic instructions on the back on the left and some coupon card things on the right.

open box

Beneath the welcome card is a USB drive. It has a Microsoft certificate of authenticity on it, so you know its real and has real Microsoft binary bits. There’s also a tracking ID on it too. The Microsoft logo is embedded in plastic on the back and not some cheap printer job. It’s certainly done with style to make the USB drive seem to be actually worth something.

beneath the card

On the USB Drive is just an ISO. There are no other files The drive itself isn’t bootable. It is formatted with NTFS though. At the very least, it’s readable on all platforms. It also enumerates as a device of the name Windows 8 Pro in system profiler. Quite a Matroska doll. I guess having an ISO is easier than mounting a USB drive in a virtual machine in terms of instructional material.

drive contents

The cards on the right had keys on them. They’re business card sized and feel like them too.

key cards

On the back were some keys. Why they felt the need to kill all these trees and grow soy beans to produce the ink for printing on said dead tree material to wrap around these numbers is beyond me.

key codes

It took two months for these two alphanumeric strings to get here. The lack of timeliness on delivering these two codes and an ISO does not look well for Microsoft’s Windows efforts at all. It would take 30 minutes to illegally obtain these materials. 30 minutes is far less than two months. Oh, I almost forgot, they don’t even include Parallels in the package. You will have to go download that from Parallel’s site. What a “quickstart” indeed.