By Steve Gillmor  |  Posted 2003-11-24 Print this article Print

The last three form the core of Office System 2003, which Bill Gates touted as the strategic development platform for the near future at the New York launch. With Longhorn still far away, Microsoft is asking developers to invest in XSD for now—only to have to unlearn and migrate when Longhorn appears in 2006.

Its muddy messages like this that drive developers toward the exits. Remember the outcry from Visual Basic programmers about the rewrite costs of moving to VB .Net? It made the move to Java easier for enterprise IT managers to rationalize.

In another Longhorn veer-away from standards, the "Avalon" subsystems XAML (Transaction Authority Markup Language) breaks out layout of text, images and controls from event and logic processing.

Chief Software Architect Gates may be hoping to partition his troops into more malleable groups: visual designers using new XAML-aware IDEs such as the rumored "Sparkle" and the more expensive coders, lured back to the fold from Java or co-opted from scripting platforms such as Python by Common Language Runtime.

Perhaps Microsoft will offer Sparkle add-ons to automate the porting of Office System code to WinFS. Or supply a Web service layer in the cloud to mask the transition while renovations are under way.

For those who dont fully believe in truth, justice and the Microsoft way, there will be defections in the ranks. Some will move to Suns warm, VB-like Rave embrace; others to Microsoft refugee Adam Bosworths WebLogic Workshop; even some to Flex, Macromedias Flash-based server and presentation-tier framework due next year.

Unless Microsoft can deliver a Longhorn Lite—or another clear migration strategy—to Office developers in the near future, the momentum may switch to rich Internet platforms from Apple, Sun or even a revived Novell. At risk is Longhorns strongest asset—its inevitability.

Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Contributing Editor Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.coms Messaging and Collaboration Center. His e-mail address is steve_gillmor@ziffdavis.com.

Steve Gillmor is editor of eWEEK.com's Messaging & Collaboration Center. As a principal reviewer at Byte magazine, Gillmor covered areas including Visual Basic, NT open systems, Lotus Notes and other collaborative software systems. After stints as a contributing editor at InformationWeek Labs, editor in chief at Enterprise Development Magazine, editor in chief and editorial director at XML and Java Pro Magazines, he joined InfoWorld as test center director and columnist.

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