All Things to All People

Bigger is better. At least, that seems to be the philosophy at the Microsoft Developer Division. Last year, we saw an unprecedented update to the Visual Studio IDE, which gained native support for Windows Azure, SharePoint 2010 and Silverlight development, as well as the new Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) editor and the Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF).

At the time, Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Sanfilippo called the IDE the most significant update since Visual Studio .NET ushered in the managed Microsoft

.NET Framework in 2002. And Mark Driver, analyst at IDC, said that after the 2010 release, Visual Studio faced the threat of "imploding under its own weight."

"To be fair, they're stuck between a rock and a hard place," Driver said. "The same person being tasked to do SharePoint Web Parts may also be tasked to do ASP.NET coding." He added that Microsoft may need to consider splitting up Visual Studio in the next version.

As reported in this month's cover feature, a similar dynamic is afoot with the Microsoft flagship managed-programming languages, C# and Visual Basic. Under the co-evolution strategy, the two languages have cross-pollinated plenty of key features. At the same time, these statically typed languages have become increasingly diverse, taking on key aspects of functional, dynamic and, most recently, asynchronous programming.

And with Microsoft working on its compiler as a service effort for C# and Visual Basic, we'll see even more diversity.

There's a delicate balancing act that must occur as Microsoft expands the footprint of its core developer tools to embrace multiple roles and disciplines. How do you think Microsoft should approach the task of evolving its tools? E-mail me at [email protected].

About the Author

Michael Desmond is an editor and writer for 1105 Media's Enterprise Computing Group.

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