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Microsoft’s Language Choices

Dare posted up the other day about Microsoft’s language choices and how they have “missed the boat” with some of today’s trendsetters. He mentions that Microsoft is too busy competing with Java and the JVM with C# and, as a result, other language/technology crowds aren’t receiving enough attention. He makes some good points, so definitely give it a read.

I originally just commented on the post because at one point he states that Microsoft provides no JavaScript IDE. Since I’ve been using versions of it since around 1996, that just didn’t seem to make sense to me. Not to mention the Visual Studio IDE has provided the best JavaScript debugger out there (IMHO) since v6.0 with Visual InterDev.

Anyway, I just went back to the post and reviewed some of the other comments that have been made and naturally people have to bring out the “Microsoft is a monopoly” argument and that once they move into a space and crush the competition they just go stale. What I don’t get about this argument is that, on one hand people bitch Microsoft is a monopoly and always tries to conquer everything, yet on the other hand people expect them to implement everything. Why in the hell does Microsoft have to provide every language? What’s wrong with IronPython or any of the other language implementations that run on the CLR!? Just because it’s not provided out of the box by Microsoft you can’t use it? Wouldn’t that just perpetuate the whole “Microsoft is a monopoly” ? Microsoft did their part by providing the CLR (100% free of charge I might add), standardizing it, having resources out there helping third parties port their languages to it, etc. Microsoft provides four languages out of the box that run on the CLR: C#, VB, JScript and C++. Why should they have to be the ones to provide all the others? 

Next, we all know a language isn’t much good without a decent development environment. Well, Microsoft helps out there too: VS.NET is 100% extensible and anyone who might port a language to the CLR can also integrate into the IDE and provide a full set of debugging/editing services just as well as Microsoft can. Don’t want to integrate into VS.NET because it’s too “heavy” or you don’t want to require your users to fork over the cash for it? Fine, write your own IDE and just hook into the CLR using the debugging and profiling APIs.

It’s impossible for Microsoft to please everybody. In the end they are a business and need to be strategic about which battles they choose. If you don’t like the fact that there’s not a version of your favorite language on the CLR or that the support isn’t that great, quit bitching and do something about it!

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  1. Yeah, but the simple script debugger IDE had code colorization and allowed you to manage your scripts. That’s the old/simple version. Visual IntDev obviously offered more (browser and ASP intellisense). What did everyone else have in 1996?

    You realize *most* people didn’t even give JavaScript a second thought beyond simple DHTML BS until this recent AJAX epiphany? How can a useful IDE be created around development processes that aren’t even really defined yet?

    This all comes back to my point: if you got the ideas, go create something! Now’s your chance to dominate the market.

  2. It’s not Microsoft, I would defend any double standard situation for any person/company the same way.

    How do you define IDE? In 1996 what else was there to do with JavaScript except color it and debug it? Intellisense was just coming on the scene and if you want to say Script Debugger wasn’t an IDE, then how about InterDev? Where’s Mozilla’s IDE for web projects? I know they have the venkmann debugger which totally kicks ass (still prefer VS.NET, but that’s just me), but that’s not an IDE.

    And like I said for AJAX, c’mon we’ve been doing it for years without an IDE that is targeted SPECIFICALLY at that task. Still amazes me that now that Mozilla supports XmlHttp (a completely non-standard intereface) it’s somehow ok for everyone to be developing apps around it. How about bitching about Microsoft, Mozilla, Apple, Opera, Konquerer and whoever else not implementing DOM Level 3 Load and Save? That might make more sense, then we could develop some kind of IDE support around a stanard at least, but I digress…

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