Microsoft, IBM Woo Developers

Microsoft and IBM are taking decidedly different paths toward developer outreach.

Microsoft Corp. and IBM are taking decidedly different paths toward developer outreach.

While Microsofts MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network), the companys main vehicle for pushing its developer tools out to its customer base, continues to grow, IBM is taking a more targeted approach with its developer-focused network, DeveloperWorks, where the number of subscribers grew by a million last year.

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IBM is putting more weight behind transitioning key portions of its DeveloperWorks membership into other IBM programs, namely PartnerWorld, where developers must pledge to build on the IBM middleware platform, sources said.

Effective April 20, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., stopped marketing DeveloperWorks subscriptions, which give developers software and resources for building applications using IBMs middleware and tools.

John Montgomery, director of product management for Visual Studio and the developer platform at Microsoft, said he views IBMs move as stepping away from the individual developer to a more enterprise-centric role. Microsoft continues to focus on both, he said. "The interpretation I make is that IBM is ... focusing attention to the enterprise market to drive the Rational revenue stream," he said.

"We are doing more for partners than [we have] historically," countered Kathy Mandelstein, director of worldwide developer strategy at IBM. "But we have not slowed down on the broad masses of developers, either."

IBM has not announced a replacement for the DeveloperWorks subscriptions. Instead, IBM now lists replacement parts for subscription products as the IBM Software Development Platform—the companys development tools suite.

"IBM has no interest in small and midsize enterprises," said Stephen Forte, chief technology officer at Corzen Inc., in New York. "Those companies cannot afford big, expensive tools like Rational, nor can they afford big expensive Global Services contracts."

Microsoft, meanwhile, is set up to handle a multitiered tools business, according to Montgomery. The Redmond, Wash., company can now "push up into the enterprise" with its Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio Team System products and can "push down" to casual developers and hobbyists with the Visual Studio Express line.

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