I mentionedthe Microsoft Live “gadget” competition derisively on Tuesday -where they’re giving away a couple of xbox360s to the creators ofthe best gadgets, trying to entice some extremely cheap labour(split the marginal prize cost amongst the hundreds who’ll probablytake the challenge to win themselves a game system). Of courseMicrosoft is doing it to try to make their platform viable.
Firefox is getting intothe game too: Develop the best extensions to go with Firefox1.5, and you could win from a collection of prizes. It is sort ofremarkable that the Mozilla Foundation prizes are so much richerthan the Microsoft prizes – e.g. three absolutely top of theclass gaming computer rigs as the grand prizes, versus I believe 4xboxes, worth 1/5th the amount, from Microsoft (you would thinkMicrosoft would at least pony up for a year of MSDN Universalor something for the winners). The Firefox competition also hasimpressive category winning bounties, including an iPod Nano and a$250 gift certificate.
Of course many enter these sorts of competitions not for theprizes, but rather for the prestige. For these people the prizesare almost an insult.
For the prospective competitors, in the Firefox case there isalready a rich ecosystem of very impressive extensions, so you cango into that knowing that you’re starting with a proven, richplatform. In Microsoft Live’s case, there is a measly 8 existinggadgets, and they’re a little weak. I’m always suspicious whenorganizations unleash that sort of platform on the world, becausetheir lack of experience trying to use it in real world scenariosmeans that it is almost certain v1.0-borked – e.g. you can expect acomplete rework and rewrite as people explore the edge cases, anddiscover all of the things that simply cannot be accomplished withthe infrastructure they’ve developed. If you’re a developer, you’veprobably been handed that sort of “framework” from a coworker, withgrand promises of extraordinary extensibility, but in reality it’suseless in the real world because they never actually used it foranything of consequence themselves.