When Microsoft Corp. rolls out a major tools release such as Visual Studio 2005, it isnt just equipping developersits enlisting them. Every Visual Studio release since the debut of this line has had a compound agenda: Its always offered developers an attractively paved path of least resistance that indubitably increased productivity, but has also fostered acceptance of Microsofts current strategic direction. Visual Studio 2005, launched last month, is no exception. Even the expanded and redesigned Start page of the Visual Studio 2005 environment is an express invitation to join a movement rather than merely to write an application.This is not entirely a criticism, but it is a critical point for developers to understand when weighing their alternativesnot just in choosing tools but also in adopting future application models. Next Page: A platform proposition.