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SOASCANetBeansMicrosoftjBPMEclipseConEclipse 21 Mar 2008 8:48 AM
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Eclipse Conned By Microsoft by kvandersluis
I attended EclipseCon 2008 this week in Santa Clara, CA.  Wednesday's keynote speaker was Sam Ramji from Microsoft, talking about Microsoft's growing participation in Open Source initiatives. He began by confirming rumors that a new initiative, "Supernova", would have Microsoft purchasing the Eclipse organization, and acquiring all intellectual property of Eclipse. A couple weeks shy of April Fools Day, Sam still got lots of laughs on that one, from an understandably skeptical crowd. He talked about his group, the Open Source Software Lab, whose broad purpose it is to assist the open source community with interoperability with Microsoft software. Microsoft recognizes that more and more open source software is running on Microsoft platforms, and they want to continue improving the platform to facilitate this growth. Microsoft sponsors a .NET open source forge at www.codeplex.com. Sam's open source work is closely aligned with Microsoft's recently announced interoperability principles, which signals a more open direction for Office, SQL Server, SharePoint, Vista, and .Net.

While I believe Microsoft is in a different galaxy when gaging their level of Open Source commitment, I do believe they are moving in the right direction. They are doing just about what you might expect from the largest, most successful commercial software company in the world. They are encouraging interoperability to increase their own platform market. But Sam asked for patience from the EclipseCon crowd, noting that in 1995, everybody assumed Microsoft missed the boat on the internet. Ten years later, they are one of the dominant players in that space. Sam propositioned that with Open Source too, Microsoft may be starting slow, but ten years from now, Microsoft may be known as a dominant Open Source player. I am skeptical on this point, as I believe were most of the attendees. But Sam's interoperability initiative is at least a good step in the right direction.

I attended a number of EclipseCon sessions Wednesday morning, covering Service Component Architecture (SCA) tooling, JBoss's jBPM, and Eclipse metadata management initiatives. The SCA tooling is part of the new SOA Tools Platform, one that is emerging as an important member of the Open Source SOA ecosystem. XAware plays well with all these tools, interoperating at a number of levels, ultimately providing information-rich services as the foundation of an SOA initiative.

As if a Microsoft keynote speaker at an Open Source event weren't unusual enough, things grew really strange when I had a brief encounter with a flamboyant Marilyn Monroe while exiting the convention center. A number of her body parts looked totally fake, not least of which was her platinum blonde hair, obviously a wig. It turns out she was stumping for NetBeans among the Eclipse faithful. For those who don't know, NetBeans is the Sun-sponsored competitor to Eclipse, also an Open Source, pluggable Interactive Development Environment (IDE). Marilyn smiled broadly and handed me a disk, then invited me to the NetBeans party at the Techmart building next door. Instead of heading to my car, I took a left turn towards the Techmart (guess I'm a sucker for such advertising gimmicks), and took a quick walk through. The NetBeans crew had free beer and other refreshments along with demonstrations of the NetBeans environment. I didn't have much time to hang around, but I appreciated the amusing marketing ploy, a perfectly targeted campaign aimed at EclipseCon attendees.

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