Microsofts Mastery of Innovative

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2005-11-13 Print this article Print

Development Tools"> Developing a relationship

Finally, theres the matter of applications.
Its impossible to overstate the importance of Microsofts mastery and promotion of innovative development tools, plus ardent and effective courting of application developers, in achieving and maintaining the dominance of Windows.
The key question, however, is what the application development space would look like if Windows had never emerged.

When Microsoft started talking about Windows, Apple was a few years away from the release of its groundbreaking HyperCard—but it wasnt until 1990 that Windows 3.0 was actually useful, with another year before Visual Basic 1.0 made Windows development feasible for users. By 1991, NeXT Computer had introduced an object-oriented development platform; Apples HyperCard 2.0 was already a year old and proving a fertile environment for innovative applications.

Will the launch of SQL Server 2005, Visual Studio 2005 and BizTalk Server 2005 be one of Microsofts last big launches? Click here to read more. Visual Basics model was a GUI with behaviors built behind it, while HyperCards was an extensible data structure with powerful but approachable GUI tools. The HyperCard model might have been a better choice for the baby-duck imprinting of a generation of programmers. HyperCard "stacks" could easily have become an approachable model for distributed platforms and concurrent processing engines, and there were several competing Windows and cross-platform development tools that resembled HyperCard by the time Visual Basic arrived.

Visual Basic had the edge, though, in exploiting the Windows APIs—and that was the advantage that mattered.

If there had been no Windows, wed still be printing, wed still be plugging and playing, and wed still be developing applications. Windows was brilliantly positioned, however, so as to replace the problem of how to do things on PCs with the problem of how to do things on Windows.

Thats a problem that Microsoft always solved better than anyone else.

Peter Coffee can be reached at For reader response to this editorial, click here. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developersÔÇÖ technical requirements on the companyÔÇÖs evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter companyÔÇÖs first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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