Redmond Diary

By Andrew J. Brust

Blog archive

Visual Studio's Cross-Platform Play

I like it when Microsoft bridges its technologies to other platforms. I like the PHP Driver for SQL Server and the samples in the PHP On Windows Training Kit so much that I did a whole session on them at VSLive! last month. The ADO.NET Data Services (Astoria) bridges for PHP and Java are very exciting to me. The Silverlight plug-in for Eclipse, the Azure SDK for Java, and the Windows 7 support for Eclipse are all good stuff.

To add to these recent developments, Microsoft has announced its acquisition of the Teamprise products from SourceGear. These are non-.NET, Team Foundation Server clients in the form of an Eclipse plug-in, a stand-alone client and a command line client, suitable for scripting. The clients work on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux and Solaris.

And beyond this Microsoft announcement, Novell announced its Mono Tools plug-in for Visual Studio, allowing .NET developers to target non-Windows platforms, without leaving the comfort of Visual Studio IDE and their favorite add-ins for that IDE.

With these products and technologies, Microsoft does both well and good. They build good will, they add credibility to their products and they diversify the customer base. I suppose a more skeptical view is that these products and initiatives erode the strength of Windows in the marketplace. But I don’t buy that. From what I can tell, Windows has the power to erode its own position (as Vista did) or strengthen it (as Windows 7 seems to be doing), all by itself.

I liken the Teamprise and Mono Tools’ widening of the Visual Studio customer base to the similar cross-platform adoption of Exchange facilitated by the licensing of ActiveSync. The latter has made Exchange a platform supported by iPhone, Android and Palm’s WebOS devices, in addition to its long-standing support on Blackberry and Windows Mobile. Given the strength of the newer smartphone platforms, (and the increasing weakness of Windows Mobile), this cross-platform support turns out to be really important for the continued strength of Exchange. Likewise, support on other operating systems for TFS and new support for other operating systems in the Visual Studio IDE help establish Microsoft development and ALM tools as true standards, rather than simply incumbents for the Windows platform.

I don’t know if everyone in Redmond is happy about these developments, but they should be, because this interoperability gives Microsoft gravitas, and a better-assured franchise than it would otherwise have.

Posted by Andrew J. Brust on 11/13/2009

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