Microsoft Brings Eclipse to the Windows 7 Party

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2009-10-28

Microsoft Brings Eclipse to the Windows 7 Party

Microsoft has tasked Tasktop Technologies to help optimize Windows 7 for Eclipse developers.

As part of  Microsoft's ongoing initiative to make its products more open, it announced at the Eclipse Summit Europe today new solutions that help developers using the Eclipse platform to take advantage of the new features in Windows 7 and Window Server 2008 R2, and reinforce Java and PHP interoperability with Windows Azure and Microsoft Silverlight. 

Microsoft worked with open-source companies-Tasktop for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and Soyatec from France for Azure and Silverlight-to provide greater choice and opportunities for developers working in heterogeneous computing environments to use a mix of Microsoft and open-source technologies.

"Microsoft and Tasktop are working together to make Eclipse shine on Windows 7," said Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop, in an interview with eWEEK at the Symbian Exchange & Exposition in London. "Windows 7 has some significant UI enhancements and, to date, Eclipse has looked and felt like a Windows XP app. So Microsoft is funding Tasktop to implement the Eclipse SWT [Standard Widget Toolkit] enhancements to leverage the new features in Windows 7."

"Enabling customers to better manage their dynamic IT systems is one of today's real market opportunities for developers. Microsoft's goal with these interoperability projects is to further open up this opportunity to the Eclipse ecosystem," said Jean Paoli, general manager of Interoperability Strategy at Microsoft, in a statement. "This collaboration with Tasktop and Soyatec-and the new opportunity it creates with tools to make it easier to build on Microsoft's open platforms-reflects the value we place on the ingenuity of the Eclipse developer community."

The work will consist of developing updates to the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE) that will incorporate new features available in Windows 7 and Window Server 2008 R2, ensuring that the improved productivity and user experience of Windows 7 will be available to developers using the Eclipse IDE, as well as to desktop applications built on the Eclipse platform.

The new Eclipse user experience on Windows 7 will enable developers to take advantage of Windows 7-specific functionality, such as Jump Lists from the redesigned Windows 7 task bar, which enable quick access to Eclipse-specific actions. The initial work will extend the Eclipse SWT to integrate Windows 7 features, such as task bar display of progress and search widget integration. The updates also will modernize the look and feel of Eclipse to match the Windows 7 user interface experience.

"Our collaboration with Microsoft will benefit the Eclipse ecosystem by bringing the new features in Windows 7 to both the Eclipse IDE and Eclipse-based desktop applications," Kersten said.

Tasktop will be contributing enhancements to the Eclipse IDE that will be available under the Eclipse Public License for early access in the first quarter of 2010 and targeted for general release with Eclipse Helios in June 2010.

"We're pleased to see a project that will ensure Eclipse developers benefit from new enhancements in Windows 7 and receive a first-class experience on the Microsoft platform," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. "Microsoft's work with Tasktop, one of the drivers of innovation in the Eclipse ecosystem, is a great example of the collaborative efforts that continue to evolve and drive the success of Eclipse."

Microsoft Open-Source Plug-in

Microsoft also announced a new open-source plug-in that gives developers more flexibility when using the Eclipse development environment, which will help advance industry cloud interoperability efforts, the company said. The Windows Azure tools for Eclipse will enable PHP developers using Eclipse to create Web applications targeting Windows Azure, Microsoft's operating system for the cloud. 

The plug-in offers PHP developers a series of wizards and utilities allowing the writing, debugging, configuring and deploying of PHP applications to Windows Azure. The plug-in bundles the existing Windows Azure SDK for PHP into the Eclipse PHP project, Microsoft said. The plug-in includes a Window Azure storage explorer that allows developers to browse data contained into the Windows Azure tables, blobs or queues. The Eclipse Tools for Windows Azure is available as a free download at

Microsoft also launched a new Windows Azure SDK for Java, which provides tools and resources to help bridge Java developers to Windows Azure. The SDK enables Java developers to leverage Windows Azure Storage services for storing data. The Windows Azure SDK for Java is available for download at:

Microsoft worked in collaboration with Soyatec, a France-based IT solutions provider to develop the Eclipse Tools for Windows Azure for PHP and the Windows Azure SDK for Java. 

In addition, Microsoft and Soyatec have released Version 1.0 of the Eclipse Silverlight plug-in, an open-source, cross-platform plug-in for the Eclipse development environment that enables Eclipse developers to build Silverlight rich Internet applications (RIAs).  This project includes support for the Macintosh platform and provides guidance for greater interoperability between Silverlight-based applications and Java-based Websites and Web services, including REST, SOAP, JSON and other standards.  A Customer Technology Preview (CTP) of the plug-in was first made available in March 2009.

The Eclipse Tools for Silverlight provides choice and enables interoperability by allowing Eclipse developers to develop code for the Silverlight platform using the popular Eclipse development tool and collaborate with developers working with Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio tools.  The RTM of Version 1.0 can be downloaded at no charge here.

In addition, due to the popularity of the project, Microsoft and Soyatec have released a road map, that details their future plan to support the project for subsequent releases of Silverlight. 

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