Threats or Opportunities?

Desmond ponders threats and bids farewell

If each dog year equals seven human years, I wonder how many years a developer ages with every turn of the calendar?

It wasn't long ago that many of us were reacting to Microsoft's published threat to sue Linux developers over some 235 software patent violations (May 2007), or questioning Redmond's sincerity following its Interoperability Pledge (February 2008). Yet here we are today, pondering the fate of Silverlight and XAML development now that Microsoft has elevated HTML5 and JavaScript to first-class citizens in Windows 8. It's been only three or four years, yet it seems like so many more.

Microsoft is a company built on leverage, yet it's not afraid to redefine the fulcrum when threatened. Faced with the emergence of Java, Microsoft shifted the center point of its strategy from Windows (and the Win32 API) to the newly formed Microsoft .NET Framework. The company went so far as to retire its leading software development language -- Visual Basic 6 -- in favor of the managed languages C# and Visual Basic .NET. It's a move that, to this day, incites passionate debate.

The events of 2000 color perception today. Once again, Redmond faces a major threat -- the emergence of non-Microsoft-based smartphones, devices and tablets -- and once again, the company is making bold moves. Could Microsoft scuttle Silverlight the way it did Visual Basic 6? It seems really, really unlikely. And yet, we've seen Microsoft make big changes before.

Microsoft isn't alone making changes. This month's issue of Visual Studio Magazine will be my last. Starting in September, I'll be serving as editor in chief of MSDN Magazine. My colleague, Keith Ward, will take the reins here at Visual Studio Magazine. And I expect that, for both of us, the time will just keep flying by.

About the Author

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

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