What Microsofts Reorganization Means
for Developers"> Meanwhile, perhaps further signaling the importance of developers to the company, in announcing a reorganization of the company last month, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that Eric Rudder, senior vice president of servers and tools at Microsoft, would begin to report directly to Gates. Click here to read more about how Microsofts recent reorganization affects developers.In fact, Treadwell said, Rudder is largely responsible for Microsofts move to become more transparent and to show developers what the company is working on in the way of CTPs (Community Technology Previews) of key technologies on the horizon. Cornelius Willis, a vice president at SourceLabs Inc. in Seattle who used to work in Microsofts developer division helping build out the Microsoft developer ecosystem, said, "Contrary to popular opinion, Microsoft does have a strong culture of transparency. It spends a ton of money sharing its plans and is also pretty clear about where it wants to play in the market. There is also an amazing depth and breadth of technical information available on the platform, there really is nothing comparable anywhere else." Willis also said the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) plays a major role in getting developers to coalesce around Microsofts platforms. "The value of MSDN is huge, and not well understood," Willis said. "Developers most critical resource is their time, and Microsoft optimizes that well." "What really turned the tide was MSDN," Forte said. "By the late 90s MSDN subscriptions and the MSDN Web site were critical. MS really catered to us..." However, at times developers have questioned whether the developer ranks or the Microsoft Windows franchise have been most important to the company. But Microsoft officials say the two go hand in hand. "The most important thing for Windows is being compelling to developers," Treadwell said. "Developers are the linchpin for the success of Windows." Jim Allchin, co-president of the new Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division, said, "Well, developers do want to touch a lot of customers. We have to make our platform very popular in order for them to do that. If we make their jobs easier then theyll be more likely to stay on the Windows platform. At the same time, we have to listen to them and forget about competitors in terms of the platform." Meanwhile, after high volume, low cost, "the second thing they figured out was Dont get too hung up on pure computer science," Montgomery said. "Making it easy is more important than adhering to strict rules of object orientation and polymorphism. "And the third thing they figured out is that having events like the PDC is really important because you need to show people what youre doingshow them a lot of leg so they know where youre going to go and make it easy for them to adopt these technologies and at the same time talk about business ideas for how they can make money." At PDC 2000, Microsoft introduced its .Net platform. "We showed a lot of leg really early intwo years before we shipped foundational technology," Montgomery said. "And we said were making a big change. We believe in this Web services infrastructure, we believe in managed code as the primary programming model for most types of applications. Now over half of all professional developers all use .Net." Also along the way, Microsofts developer group adjusted to various inflection points in the industry, such as the Internet, Java and open-source software. Microsoft licensed Java and created tools for the language. The licensing soon became tenuous and led to a series of legal battles with Sun Microsystems Inc. that were finally settled last year. Hejlsberg called Java "an inspiration" to Microsoft and to the industry at large. Moreover, the open-source movement forced Microsoft to become more transparent. Microsoft adopted XML and Web services as part of its effort to leverage its products for the Web. Meanwhile, Microsoft has moved into modeling technology with its Visual Studio Team System. And the company has embarked on a whole new effort to appeal not only to developers, but to designers as well with its upcoming Expression Studio product line. Visual Studio 2005 will be launched on November 7. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.
"That will be helpful for the division," Treadwell said. "Eric deeply understands developers and what they want and need."