Microsoft to Support Two Eclipse Projects

At the EclipseCon event, Microsoft officials hinted that these first steps could lead to greater collaboration with the Eclipse community. 

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Microsoft has broken from its past and is supporting the Eclipse Foundation.

In a speech at the EclipseCon 2008 conference here March 19, Sam Ramji, Microsoft's chief open-source advocate, delivered a morning keynote and said that Microsoft will support two key Eclipse technologies, and he hinted that there may be more to come. Ramji is the director of platform technology strategy at Microsoft.

Continuing its push to get along with open-source projects and technologies, Ramji said Microsoft now will support SWT and the Higgins identity management project.

Microsoft will support the SWT presentation technology with its WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). SWT is an open-source widget toolkit for Java designed to provide efficient, portable access to the user-interface facilities of the operating systems on which it is implemented.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will support the Higgins identity management technology with its CardSpace implementation.

According to the definition on the Eclipse Foundation's Higgins Web page, Higgins is "an open-source Internet identity framework designed to integrate identity, profile, and social relationship information across multiple sites, applications, and devices."

It's not a protocol but software that supports a user experience that works with such digital identity protocols, including WS-Trust, OpenID, SAML, XDI and LDAP.

Microsoft's moves mark the first time the company has worked openly with Eclipse. However, Ramji said at the company's' recent MIX 08 conference in Las Vegas that he and Eclipse Executive Director Mike Milinkovich have been talking for almost a year about how the two organizations could collaborate.

Milinkovich called Microsoft's move a "positive step," albeit small steps in the direction of working more closely with Eclipse.

Asked if he thought Microsoft might someday join the strongly Java-focused Eclipse Foundation, Milinkovich said such an idea is not "very farfetched to consider that."

Eclipse has a clause that all members ship some sort of technology based on an Eclipse project. Milinkovich said Microsoft could easily meet that criterion with a plug-in to Visual Studio.