Microsoft PerformancePoint: When Bad News Is Good News

When Microsoft launched its PerformancePoint Server family back in November 2007, it was a big deal in the business intelligence (BI) community. Companies like Business Objects, Cognos and Hyperion were all suddenly put on notice. Microsoft was bringing its compelling licensing terms, vast platform play and commoditization mantra to the once-sleepy BI market space.

But a funny thing happened on the way to BI dominance: The product known as PerformancePoint Server 2007 flopped.

Well, it didn't flop entirely. Yes, Microsoft on Friday announced it was closing the PerformancePoint product line. But PerformancePoint won some accounts and certainly had a reasonable tale to tell in the wide-ranging Windows Server and .NET stack. The BI product in the Office Systems suite was, however, something of a misfit -- a vertically oriented product in a toolbox full of horizontal solutions. Microsoft partners struggled to sell folks on PerformancePoint, when many were already happy with what was baked into SQL Server, SharePoint Server and Excel.

Kristina Kerr, lead product manager for Microsoft Business Intelligence, told me that part of the problem was Microsoft's failure to differentiate from the competition. "The way we were packaging [PerformancePoint] and selling it was no different than any other BI vendor out there," she said, adding, "Really, our team is aligning itself to how customers are purchasing our software right now."

You know, in another time, Microsoft might have simply churned out a second and, ultimately, a third version of PerformancePoint, each more refined and capable than the last. But this isn't any other time. With the economy in a tailspin and Microsoft mindful of its core product business, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft shoring up the levees.

The good news is that the monitoring/dashboarding and analytics capabilities of PerformancePoint will find a new home in SharePoint Server Enterprise. Migration work on what will be known as PerformancePoint Services is already underway, with BI features set to surface in the upcoming SharePoint 14 release. Also, current PerformancePoint software assurance customers will get a license to SharePoint Server Enterprise, enabling them to tap the forthcoming BI capabilities of SharePoint.

The financial budget, planning and consolidation capabilities of PerformancePoint are heading in a different direction -- back to the Microsoft Dynamics team. Included in this is the technology acquired in the 2006 purchase of ProClarity.

All in all, the decision to shutter PerformancePoint is a bit embarrassing for Microsoft, but it's good news for developers, IT shops and Microsoft alike. The addition of PerformancePoint functionality will give Microsoft a powerful talking point when it pitches the upcoming SharePoint Server 14 product to customers, and could prompt those on the fence to dive into the enterprise-edition of SharePoint Server.

Shuttering an unsuccessful product is hardly surprising. It happens all the time. But when I try to remember the last widely promoted software product Microsoft essentially shut down in the prime of its lifecycle, I'm hard-pressed to remember more than a few. Microsoft Bob, yes. Visual J++, certainly. But it's actually remarkable how consistent Microsoft has been with its product lineups over the years.

Now that PerformancePoint Services will start showing up in SharePoint Server, what are your thoughts on taking advantage of it? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/27/2009 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Developers Debate C#

Tuesday's blog reported on a conversation I had with Microsoft Technical Fellow Anders Hejlsberg on the future direction of C# and how programming languages are increasingly breaking out of traditional boundaries like imperative versus functional, and dynamic versus static typing.

In the case of C#, the language has already picked up functional programming attributes found in languages like OCaml, Haskell and F#, while the upcoming C# 4.0 is being outfitted with dynamic typing capabilities. That addition should help solve a lot of thorny type interactions with COM, among other benefits.

The article prompted plenty of thoughtful responses from developers interested in advancements to C#. A number of readers worried that the addition of new talents could make C# more difficult to work with -- a concern Hejlsberg addressed when talking about the challenge of stewarding language development.

"One of the most frustrating things is the continuously expanding complexity of C#," wrote Dr. Brian Morris, director of Euronav Ltd., in Portsmouth, England. "Often, engineers will use a new feature just because it's there, when using the simpler constructs of a language would give a better solution."

Morris said he'd like C# to provide deterministic destruction, which he said would make C# more suitable for near-real-time applications. "Perhaps a solution would be to allow the switching off of garbage collection for everything in a specified class/assembly and allow the destuctors to work as they should," he wrote.

In addition to complaining about what he called "subtle gotchas" in C#, Morris would also like to see the language gain the "ability to fully pre-compile and link for distribution as a near-native application" for improved security and faster start-up.

Richard Philip Doble in West Yorkshire, England, said C# has a ways to go before it can lure him away from Java. He says he would like several concepts from Java incorporated in C# -- checked exceptions that could be toggled on or off on a per-file basis, more flexible enumerations that can implement interfaces and accept custom members, and nested classes that are visible to the enclosing class.

He also applauded Java's Swing components, which exist as views of the underlying default or custom model. "This nicely separates the data from the view. Also, the same table can be made to display different data sets simply by assigning a reference to different model instances," Doble wrote. "I prefer this approach to the .NET components that retain internal copies of the data that is being displayed."

But not everyone is convinced that C# needs a makeover to succeed. Reader Ronald Jones implored Hejlsberg to leave C# be. "Languages, once created, need to remain static for the most part. Change a library, add a framework, but stop changing the language!" he wrote. "If C# has any future, it must cease to be a moving target."

Should Hejlsberg keep his hands off C#? Or do you look forward to C# 4.0 further advancing Microsoft's flagship programming language? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/22/2009 at 1:15 PM5 comments


C# and Darwinian Theory

When Charles Darwin published "On the Origin of Species" in 1859, it turned the scientific community on its ear. His theory of natural selection fundamentally changed our understanding of the development of living organisms.

Darwin's theory can apply just as well to the world of programming language development. Over the decades we've seen languages evolve from elemental machine code and assembler constructs, to higher-order 3GL and 4GL languages that let developers economically perform increasingly complex tasks. Just as a single-cell bacteria ultimately gave rise to sea- and later land-borne vertebrates, so has the early work on machine code given rise to Java, C#, Ruby and Python.

But evolution is a tricky thing. Acquire the wrong adaptation, and your branch could be headed for the dustbin of history. That's the concern that keeps Anders Hejlsberg up nights. As the Microsoft technical fellow responsible for creating the managed C# programming language and many of the underpinnings of .NET, Hejlsberg is always on the prowl for ways to keep C# relevant.

That includes ushering dynamic typing and functional programming concepts into the statically typed, imperative C# language.

"The thing about languages, and this is generally true for all languages, is that there is a certain lifecycle to them," Hejlsberg explained to me. "Languages age. Every time you add a new feature to a language, you age it, because it sort of accrues conceptual weight, if you will. And eventually it will cave in under its own weight, because there are just too many features that have too many subtle interactions and whatever. This is the inevitable lifecycle of pretty much any language."

Hejlsberg credits the enduring success of C# -- which began development in December 1998 -- with the active, consistent and thoughtful engagement of the C# language group at Microsoft. He said the same team of people have been meeting to discuss the direction of C# ever since.

"Within six months we fell into a rhythm of having three weekly design meetings, starting at 1 o'clock and lasting at least two hours. And you know, that series of meetings is still ongoing. In fact, until recently it was still in the same room," Hejlsberg said.

That consistency has allowed C# to retain its fundamental character, Hejslberg said. He noted that despite its functional talents, C# will never replace F# for true, declarative programming tasks. Nor will C# ever replace Ruby for a fully dynamically typed environment.

"You can't fundamentally change the nature of the beast. C#, its core design center was to be an imperative, object-oriented programming language. Now you can add features that you borrow from functional and dynamic, but it still has that core center of gravity, and you can't really change that. Because now you end up with sort of schizophrenic language."

What are your thoughts on C# development? Is the language heading the right way, or would you prefer to see more profound changes? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/20/2009 at 1:15 PM5 comments


Apple's Ailing Transition

For months, Apple and its CEO Steve Jobs have parried growing rumors about Jobs' declining health. Jobs' alarming weight loss was ascribed most recently to a "hormonal imbalance" that Jobs himself said could be simply rectified without impacting his day-to-day duties at the company.

But now we hear Steve Jobs is sick. Sick enough to take a six-month leave of absence from Apple.

That Jobs is ill should come as no surprise. After all, he survived a harrowing bout with a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2004. And despite the initial denials and subsequent descriptions of his malady, it was clear to anyone with a good set of eyes that something was seriously wrong with Jobs' health.

Then came the announcement that Jobs would not make a keynote address at the Macworld Expo -- the first time he has failed to appear at the conference since returning to Apple in 1997. And now we get news that Jobs is leaving the company for six months. By comparison, his earlier bout with pancreatic cancer, which required surgery, shelved the energetic CEO for about a month.

As a student of the Cold War (I was a Soviet studies major, of all things, in college), the slow-motion play of events and revelations in this drama sadly mirrors the shaky leadership successions of the old Soviet Union. Kremlinologists were left to scan May Day parade photos and parse the mentions of key Politburo figures in each day's Pravda newspaper to glean hints of where the country might go to next. Facts were impossible to come by, but trends couldn't be hidden. A missed presentation here, a sudden vacation there, and soon evidence mounted that the current leadership might be in real crisis.

Yesterday, we were finally given stark confirmation of what a lot of us feared all along: That Steve Jobs is, in fact, seriously ill and that his leadership of one of the most vital companies in the computing and consumer electronics space is in peril.

By all accounts, interim CEO Tim Cook is a perfect candidate to fill in during Jobs' absence. Well-liked and pragmatic, according to reports, Cook already served once as interim CEO, guiding Apple during Jobs' 2004 absence. But the questions about Apple's future will quickly mount, should it become clear that Jobs will not be returning soon to the company he founded.

For good or ill, the past couple of years have produced a pair of epic leadership transitions in our industry. At Microsoft, we saw a years-long process that was transparent, incremental and controlled. Now at Apple we're witness to an entirely different type of transition -- one shrouded in secrecy and forced by events.

What are your thoughts on how Apple has handled the issue of Steve Jobs' illness? What should Apple do to ensure that it retains the confidence of third-party developers and customers going forward? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/15/2009 at 1:15 PM5 comments


Most Dangerous Programming Errors

A pair of IT industry organizations worked with a broad panel of industry and security experts to create a list of the top 25 most dangerous programming errors. The list is intended to give developers, dev managers, trainers and others the ability to target common mistakes and produce more robust code.

The project, headed by the not-for-profit MITRE Corporation and IT certification and security outfit SANS Institute, published its findings yesterday. A brief look at the list reveals plenty of well-known flaws, like "CWE-89: Failure to Preserve SQL Query Structure (aka 'SLQ Injection')" or "CWE-79: Failure to Preserve Web Page Structure (aka 'Cross-site Scripting')."

Ryan Barnett is the director of application security research for Breach Security and a participant in the project. He said there are essentially two types of programming flaws: security bugs like SQL injection that can be addressed via secure code review and QA testing, and architectural flaws that often only show themselves in production environments.

I asked Barnett which three coding errors from the 25 published he would pick as the most damaging. He chose these:

Insufficient Input Validation: "Software coding flaws emerge mainly from a lack of developers understanding one basic principle: Malicious users will not do what you expect them to do," Barnett wrote. He said failure to validate input "is the No. 1 issue affecting Web-based applications and gives rise to attacks such as SQL injection."

Improper Encoding or Escaping of Output: This is a leading issue behind cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks. Barnett said Web apps often lose track of user-supplied data, failing to properly encode the output to HTML when returned to the user. "This allows attackers to send malicious JavaScript to other users that will execute within their browsers," Barnett wrote.

Error Message Information Leakage: Barnett complained that Web apps "give out way too much information when they encounter errors," allowing attackers to piece together a view of the overall system. In the worst case, he wrote, "They can even use the error pages as the conduit to extract out customer data from databases."

So what needs to happen? Barnett said the definition of what constitutes a completed software project must change.

"From a development perspective, most developers get paid to produce applications with certain 'functional' requirements. If their application doesn't 'do' what it was supposed to do, then they won't get paid," Barnett wrote. "So, when business owners add in specific contractual language that mandates that the completed applications must not only meet functional requirements, but also must confirm that the application is free of these defects, then and only then do I believe that we will 'magically' see programmers becoming more proficient at producing secure code."

What do you think it will take? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/13/2009 at 1:15 PM1 comments


An Irrepressibly Irritating Ad

When the going gets tough, the tough get lame.

At least, that's my read on the Microsoft's latest ad tactic, inserted in the print edition of yesterday's Wall Street Journal. It's a full-page ad insert masquerading as a "draft" of a Microsoft corporate letter, complete with marked-up text and presented on ivory, heavy-stock letterhead. The letter, dated Jan. 12, 2009, opens:

It's not personal, it's just business.

Sorry, but what moron idiot wrote that?

It's personal to CJ the CEO, who mortgaged her house and her mother's house to start her cappuccino empire.

It's personal to Hideo the IT guy, who's been sleeping in his cube and wrestling with the latest intranet outage fiasco

First of all, who sleeps in cubes anymore? And "CJ the CEO"? Seriously?

The faux name-dropping is bad enough, but for my money it doesn't get any better than near the end of the text, when I hit this gem:

Because now more than ever, it's everybody's business -- every last one of the irrepressibly individual people who can come together and form a great company, even in a tough economy.

Call me a cynic, but "irrepressibly individual people" has the scent of desperate affirmation about it. It's as if the copy writers felt they had one chance to kiss up to customers in this gig and just threw caution to the winds.

And really, it's not the words that craters this ad buy -- it's the odd presentation. As RDN Executive Editor Jeffrey Schwartz commented to me: "It [was printed] on ivory heavy-stock paper. My sense is they wanted you to think you were stumbling across some secret document."

Hmm. Maybe it should have stayed that way.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/13/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Microsoft's Mobile Mess

If anyone attended, or tuned into Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show last night for news on Windows Mobile, they were surely disappointed, though probably not shocked.

With Windows Mobile 6.5 not due out until later this year and Windows Mobile 7 not likely before 2010, apparently there was little to say, other than the announcement of an agreement with Verizon Wireless to offer Live Search on all phones shipped by the carrier in the United States. Perhaps Ballmer is saving his arsenal of news for next month's annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where he is slated to speak?

There was no Zune Mobile platform at CES and the only new capability showcased by entertainment and device president Robbie Bach for Windows Mobile was the ability for users to organize their Netflix queues of television shows and movies from their devices and allow users to present those the Xbox.

Still, Microsoft has some key challenges to fix its "Mobile Mess." In the current issue of Redmond magazine, Mary Jo Foley offers some suggestions but, perhaps most pointedly, she suggests Microsoft has to get customers more excited about the future of Windows Mobile.

Last month's numbers from Gartner were not encouraging for Microsoft. Apple with its iPhone, and Research in Motion with a new cadre of Blackberries, clearly have the momentum on their side. For example, the market share of Windows Mobile for the third quarter dropped from 12.8 percent to 11.1 percent while RIM's share jumped from 9.7 percent to 15.9 percent. For the first time, iPhone sales out sold those of Windows Mobile, Gartner noted.

That's not to say Microsoft's Windows Mobile business is all shabby. Millions of devices are shipping on Windows Mobile and there is no sign that that's falling off a cliff. In singing the praises of Windows Mobile, Ballmer last night pointed out that there are 11 mobile phones that have sold one million or more units, and that suppliers have released 30 million new Windows Mobile-based phones over the past year. But by Ballmer's own account, a billion mobile phones are shipped each year, half of them are smart phones.

Nevertheless it's Apple, RIM and Google with its Android platform, that are showing the growth, and appear to be getting all the love from developers these days. Apple's App Store, released this summer, clearly has reshuffled the deck. Perhaps first Microsoft needs to capitalize on the eroding market share of Symbian and Palm.

Microsoft's strategy to bridge PCs, the Web and phones through its Windows Live services is a compelling goal. But that strategy clearly will need to play beyond Windows Mobile. For those who are developing to Windows Mobile, what's your take? What's the case for developing to Windows Mobile? I'd like to hear your issues as well as your success stories. Drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 01/08/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


Pondering Borland

Few companies in the software business have been as widely admired as Borland Software. Founded in the 1980s, Borland gave us the modern integrated development environment (IDE) with Turbo Pascal, the Delphi programming language and even the SideKick personal information manager (PIM) software, which introduced task-switching and a limited windowing interface to DOS users.

The company rightfully earned a reputation as a developer's development outfit. Programmers today still speak fondly of working with people like David Intersimone and Zack Urlocker. As RDN reader Dr. Dave Dyer, an independent consultant in Houston, Texas, said, Borland fostered a vital developer culture both inside and outside its walls.

"Within that culture existed an exquisitely detailed, ever-expanding universe of knowledge shared by all," Dyer wrote in an e-mail to RDN. "Borland became the leader of that universe where every developer (whether a student, professor, hobbyist or professional developer) actively participated in creating elegant solutions for any and all issues related [to] development with Borland products."

But the company that produced stars like flamboyant Borland CEO Philippe Khan, Microsoft technical fellow Anders Hejlsberg and former Microsoft exec Brad Silverberg looks very little like the dynamic software shop of 15 or 20 years ago. Borland spun off its legendary Developer Tools Group (DTG) in 2006 and sold the unit outright to Embarcadero Technologies in 2008.

For the past three years, Borland has largely been an application lifecycle management (ALM) company. It has forged a coherent strategy around its Open ALM platform for enabling integrated ALM in heterogeneous dev environments. It's a sound strategy, a smart strategy -- and one that could ultimately fail despite itself.

Borland is laying off up to 15 percent of its workforce. Its CEO Tod Nielsen and Senior VP of Research Peter Morowski have both resigned. The stock price hovers just below $0.90. There's a lot not to like about the news circling Borland today.

But most concerning has to be the loss of leadership. Bola Rotibi, principal analyst for Macehiter Ward-Dutton, praised "Nielsen's ability to reduce costs at Borland" in a blog post. She also lauded his willingness to make tough, unpopular decisions and noted that Borland's move to sell DTG and focus on ALM was the right one for the company.

But timing in business, as in life, is everything. And it seems that Borland's grand ALM play has run afoul of an investment shutdown at many dev shops. With deployments being put off or directed toward low-cost or open source solutions, Borland will be hard pressed in the months to come. Of course, Borland is a company with a long and rich history of improbable comebacks. It is way, way too early to write them off.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/08/2009 at 1:15 PM4 comments


Moving to Microsoft

Regular readers of RDN might recognize the name Peter O'Kelly. He's a former Burton Group industry analyst who has frequently appeared in our pages, offering expert insight on a wide range of developer-oriented issues. As editors, we rely on bright and available people like Peter to pick up the phone and offer incisive commentary on the news of the day.

Well, it looks like we won't have Peter to kick around anymore. He's taken a job at Microsoft working on enterprise collaboration optimization. As Peter describes in a blog post, he'll be working with a team on communication, collaboration and information architecture for large organizations.

It's hardly unusual to watch independent developers and topic experts get snapped up by Microsoft. Jim Hugunin, John Lam, Scott Hanselman, Phil Haack, Rob Conery, even Ray Ozzie -- the list of recently recruited Microsofties is as long as it is distinguished. And in dire economic times, it's hard to fault a guy for jumping to the company with the largest pile of cash this side of the U.S. Treasury's printing press.

And by the sounds of it, Peter in his new role will likely be engaged with one of the fastest-growing products at Microsoft: SharePoint Server. With its vast and growing install base, I'm wondering if a lot of cash-strapped businesses won't turn to SharePoint for cost-effective process, workflow and information integration.

That's a question I'll pose to Peter later this week, but I'm anxious to hear your opinion. Are you looking at SharePoint as a way to deploy cost-efficient business logic? Is your shop planning to pursue aggressive SharePoint development in the next year? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 01/06/2009 at 1:15 PM0 comments


If Programming Languages Were Religions

In the business of IT journalism, the car analogy has become so overused and impossibly tired that many shops I've worked in have banned the use of the comparison outright. Still, the old joke positing if Windows were a car is a classic.

So I got a chuckle when I read this bit on a blog site focused on a subtitle editing package called Aegisub. The entry offers a tongue-in-cheek comparison of programming languages to various world religions, as well as some fantastic suggestions for additional languages and religions. You can also find some great comments at Slashdot here.

Definitely worth a read. The author makes a great point comparing C and Judaism, both of which inspired major movements (Christianity, C++) that followed. But I laughed hardest at the description of Perl:

"Perl would be Voodoo -- an incomprehensible series of arcane incantations that involve the blood of goats and permanently corrupt your soul. Often used when your boss requires you to do an urgent task at 21:00 on Friday night."

Also worth noting is one poster comparing machine language to Animism ("ultimately, everything is made out of bits and on some level can be thought of as an executable") and assembly language to Shamanism ("we can use symbols to more easily communicate with the binary world").

Does your favorite (or most hated) programming language share characteristics with a world religion? E-mail me your takes at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/18/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Intel's Parallel Studio Goes Beta

Time was, even bloated software got faster thanks to constantly increasing processor clock speeds. Those days may be gone, but developers are finding they can take advantage of increasingly powerful multi-core CPUs to speed their apps. The problem is, nowadays developers have to work at it.

Intel lead evangelist James Reinders has been urging developers to start working on mastering parallel programming concepts for years. Intel has long offered cross-platform products like Threading Building Blocks and OpenMP to help native-code Fortran and C/C++ developers parallelize their applications.

Now Intel has teamed with Microsoft to cook up a suite of native code parallel programming solutions that could help Reinders get his message out to Windows developers. Called Intel Parallel Studio, the suite will ultimately consist of four components: Parallel Composer, Parallel Inspector, Parallel Amplifier and Parallel Advisor.

Parallel Composer went to beta last week and is a compiler, a set of parallel libraries and debugging extensions. It's likely to be released in final form in the second quarter of 2009, according to Reinders.

Following soon after are the Intel Parallel Inspector and Amplifier modules, both slated to go to beta around the end of January. The two modules promise to break parallel dev bottlenecks and improve code quality. Developers can use Parallel Inspector to sleuth out bugs that might otherwise not surface in the course of regular testing and QA. Amplifier provides an intuitive performance analyzer for identifying and resolving bottlenecks.

Reinders said the effort is to bring matured parallel tools and concepts to Windows-based developers, and that it's "absolutely critical" to parallel programming uptake. "A lot of parallel programming is about understanding how to write a lock, create a thread or manage a thread pool," he said, noting that with better tooling, all that low-level work "goes away."

In 2010, the final piece of the Parallel Studio -- Parallel Advisor -- will add in-depth code analysis and debugging to help developers focus on areas of code that will yield the greatest benefit.

"A lot of time we spend time adding parallelism to a program and not understanding fully the implications," Reinders said. "Computing the implications of [parallelism] is enormous. It's like computing all the moves on a chessboard. Parallel Advisor can tell you if adding parallelism somewhere will introduce problems with data structures somewhere else."

Are you planning to aggressively adopt parallel programming practices, and if not, why? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/16/2008 at 1:15 PM1 comments


Digital Darwinism

One of the remarkable things about Microsoft has been its willingness to fail. By that, I don't mean that the company welcomes or admits defeat to competitors. One need only glance at efforts like Microsoft Network (MSN) or products like Microsoft Money and the Zune media player to realize that Redmond will invest what it takes, as long as it takes, to challenge incumbent technologies.

What I mean is that Microsoft is happy to pit competing, homegrown technologies against each other. It's the sort of tough-minded digital Darwinism that has helped make Microsoft a technology powerhouse, and should help ensure that it remains dominant for years to come. Consider the dueling 32-bit operating systems of Windows NT and Windows 95, which ultimately merged into the Windows XP OS. Or more recently, look at the multiple data access methods Microsoft has developed to support the growing demand for efficient, data-driven programming.

As Jeffrey Schwartz reports in his Data Driver blog, Microsoft is picking a winner between the popular LINQ to SQL technology, introduced with Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5, and the recently released ADO .NET Entity Framework. And if Jeffrey's report is any indication, some developers aren't terribly happy about it.

And that can be a problem. By promoting multiple, overlapping technologies, Microsoft often invites confusion and even disruption in the dev market.

I asked Anders Hejlsberg, technical fellow in the Developer Division at Microsoft and a driving force behind the creation of LINQ, for his thoughts on Microsoft's change of direction. He said this sort of competition between technologies is "unavoidable" in part because of Microsoft's sheer size.

"The bigger a company gets, the more there is to keep track of and the more overlap that you see because we are doing more things," Hejlsberg said. "Now the LINQ to SQL project was an interesting project because it was built by the C# team, but it is clearly in the data domain. We built it because we needed something real to validate LINQ, and we strongly felt that LINQ would be nothing without a strong O-R mapper to support it."

Once the C# team's work on LINQ to SQL was done, Hejlsberg said, the technology was handed over to the ADO.NET group.

Obviously Microsoft is making its choices, but that doesn't mean developers currently using LINQ to SQL have to drop everything and work with Entity Framework. Hejlsberg emphasized that LINQ to SQL will continue to be supported.

"LINQ to SQL is not dead. I can assure you, it is not dead. Nothing ever goes away. We have never done that and we never will," he said.

What do you think of Microsoft's decision to shift focus away from LINQ to SQL? Has your dev shop been burned Microsoft's internal competition in the past? E-mail me at mdesmond@reddevnews.com.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 12/11/2008 at 1:15 PM5 comments


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