Microsoft Takes Steps Toward Eclipse Support

The Eclipse Project and Microsoft partner up for interoperability, adding to Redmond’s growing number of open source collaborators.

Microsoft has added another nickel to its open source credibility bank with the announcement of its first collaboration with the Eclipse Foundation.

Sam RamjiThe world's largest proprietary software maker and the non-profit host of the open source Eclipse Project will work together to allow the Eclipse Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) to use Microsoft's Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Speaking at the annual EclipseCon 2008 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., last month, Sam Ramji, director of Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab, said SWT on WPF will make it easier for Java developers to write applications with the look and feel of native Windows apps.

"We found there was little interest in being able to use Java to write native Windows applications that really use the power of the rendering capabilities of Windows Vista," Ramji told attendees in a keynote address. The goal of the collaboration is to provide "a first-class authoring experience for Java developers," he added.

Skeptics Weigh In
This is Microsoft's first one-on-one with Eclipse, but it's not the company's first open source initiative, Ramji pointed out.

Ramji dodged a question from the audience at EclipseCon about whether Microsoft will become an Eclipse Foundation member. The company is still not a member, and, in fact, will not be supplying committers to the SWT-WPF integration initiative. The company's engineers will work with project committers, Ramji said.

Attendees were skeptical about Microsoft's budding relationship with the Eclipse community.

"I don't believe they really get it," said Jim Mackin, a software architect with a major financial services firm. "They can't ignore open source -- they can't ignore the shift in the industry -- but they're still working under the old model. They still need to own and control the software. [Ramji] gets it, but Microsoft as a company is behind the markets and culture in this regard."

But Ramji insisted that this is just the first of numerous efforts Microsoft is announcing with the Eclipse Foundation. "There will be more to come from the conversations that Eclipse and Microsoft have begun," he said, "and I look forward to announcing those in the future."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].

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