Microsoft Gets C for Effort at EclipseCon

The company's presentation on extending Visual Studio .Net in relation to Eclipse intrigued developers, but it veered off into self-promotion, some say.

BURLINGAME, Calif.—When you go to play on the home field of a major competitor, you typically take your "A" game, but some developers at the EclipseCon conference here are giving Microsoft a solid "C" for its appearance at the conference.

Jason Weber, a lead program manager on the Visual Studio team, gave a presentation Wednesday entitled "Extending Visual Studio" to a Java-centric EclipseCon audience. And Weber stuck close to the strategy he had described to eWEEK earlier.

Weber initially asked how many in the audience were extending the Eclipse open-source development framework and most of the crowd raised their hands.

He then asked how many were extending Visual Studio and about 15 or so people raised hands. Then he asked how many were extending both and about 10 people raised their hands.

So Weber was obviously not in totally hostile territory.

He then went on to describe The Visual Studio development tools platform as consisting of three pieces: the Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment), a set of shared services that can be leveraged by any tool, and the new Team Foundation Server.

"On top of this foundation we have a set of general development tools and on top of that there are about 70 languages" that Visual Studio .Net supports, Weber said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Microsofts partners involvement with Visual Studio .Net.

Weber then began to demonstrate the strengths of Visual Studio by tickling the keyboard of his laptop and tossing some code around. He even showed as part of his demonstration the inclusion of the Eclipse Foundation logo in a C+-based application.

And at that point, some developers in the audience said they expected to learn something about developing Eclipse plug-ins for Visual Studio or vice versa. As Weber said, "Why were here is VSIP [the Visual Studio Industry Partner program], and it allows you to integrate new technology into Visual Studio like we add stuff into Visual Studio."

But instead of going further to whet developer appetites, Weber dropped the ball, according to some attendees. He outlined how to become a VSIP partner and included pricing. To become an Affiliate member is free, and Microsoft Corp. has 28,000 VSIP affiliates. To become an Alliance member costs $3,000, and Microsoft has 60 alliance partners. And to become a Premier member costs $10,000, and Microsoft has 170 premier VSIP partners, he said.

After the presentation, one developer, who asked not to be identified, said: "That turned out to be a sales pitch, and thats just not what I was expecting. This is not the place for that."

Said his partner, who also requested anonymity: "I didnt necessarily care for the sales aspect of the talk, but I have to give him a lot of credit for coming here and standing up and presenting. I give both him credit and I give the Eclipse management credit for letting Microsoft come here to talk. I was curious what they were going to say. He seemed a little nervous at first but he got a lot more comfortable when it came to the coding, and I can appreciate that."

/zimages/4/28571.gifTo read about Borlands plans to innovate atop the Eclipse IDE, click here.

Any nervousness Weber might have displayed come with good reason. In his keynote Thursday at EclipseCon, Lee Nackman, chief technology officer of IBM Rational Software, said part of the impetus for creating Eclipse was, "We decided we had to do whatever it would take to be competitive with Visual Studio on Windows."

In fact, Nackman said the name Eclipse in part came from the notion that "we liked the idea of eclipsing Visual Studio." Nackman made no mention of whether the name had anything to do with Sun, as many believe.

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