Microsoft Server Boss Talks Tools

Q&A: In time for his company's Professional Developers Conference, Senior Vice President Eric Rudder examines the effect of open source and Microsoft's plans for its next big technologies.

Eric Rudder, senior vice president of servers and tools at Microsoft Corp., is responsible for Microsofts strategies on both fronts, including the Redmond, Wash., companys outreach to its developer community. Rudders influence will be apparent at this weeks Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles; hes responsible for applying the companys tools strategy to many of the technologies being unveiled at the show, including the upcoming Longhorn operating system; the new Whidbey version of Visual Studio .Net; and Microsofts new Web services platform, known as Indigo. Rudder spoke with eWEEK Senior Writer Darryl K. Taft in the weeks before the PDC.

How has open source affected your server and tools strategy?

I think there are lots of aspects to open source, and the one thats affected me the most profoundly is really the way community is used in open source. And the way people really can get their opinions heard, and the way people can share their work with others. And the way people can feel supported and get their questions answered. And it really has changed how we think about running the business. Literally encouraging people to participate in community, running betas on a more active basis, being more transparent in our roadmap—sharing the roadmap for Whidbey and for Orcas and for what features are going to be in what. Really giving access to technology; really, literally building community into the product so that people can communicate with their peers who are working on similar issues.

And I think thats one of the elements of open source that has dramatically affected our thinking. We should have the strongest developer community for server and tools, and on the IT side, we should have the strongest developer community—whether its a bunch of DBAs sharing scripts for SQL Server or a bunch of developers sharing tips and tricks for working with Oracle, or whatever it is. We want to have the most robust discussions, the biggest collection of samples, and the most useful library of scripts for administrators. When you think about the product offering overall, and you think about documentation, for example, as something we used to just kind of deliver and in two years youll get another set of documentation. Well, thats no longer the case. We will literally update our documentation much more frequently, based on requests, based on contributions that users have made.

At the PDC, youll see us launch our SDK, for the first time incorporating community into the SDK. So people will be able to annotate the new APIs, saying things like "This is a horrible API!" or "Oh, I love this API! Why dont more APIs follow this design pattern?" And youll be able to filter and say, "Only show me comments and annotations from MVPs or all the people that work at eWEEK," or, "Show me Darryls in particular." Were kind of linking up what the Web has used in blogging with what we want to implement in information. So maybe I could subscribe to the Taft comments on APIs, and every time you post something itll actually change how I view the SDK.

So it has deeply impacted how we think about delivering information, how we think about sharing community and working together.

When or how will Visual Studio .Net support business process management?

Well, Visual Studio today supports the designer for BizTalk, the BPEL designer, so the business process designer is in there. When BTS [BizTalk Server] 2004 ships at the end of this year, it will actually ship with a new improved designer that literally is in the Visual Studio shell. Weve shown that publicly. So we will continue to put business process designers in VS and rules designers in VS soon. So we have them now, [and] theyll get better at BTS 2004 and better still when we launch Whidbey.

Next page: Next steps for model-based programming.