I Feel So Dirty

I installed Visual Studio 2005 on my laptop at work today. In case it isn’t obvious, I’m not a Microsoft fan. It’s not that I have that much against Microsoft per se, but rather that I hate the monoculture that they engender. It’s yet another case of the embrace and extend marketing philosophy that has been prevalent in the computer market for my entire career.

The first example of embrace and extend that I was aware of was Digital Equipment Corporation‘s Vax Fortran. It was a very good Fortran compiler. The problem was, there was a very good collection of Vax specific libraries that came with it. Fortran programmers loved Vax Fortran. It made their lives much simpler. It also made their code platform dependent. In many shops this was not immediately noticed, that is until the time came to buy a new machine and they realized that it had to be a Vax in order to run all the applications that they had developed in house.

One important difference between DEC and Microsoft is that DEC valued software excellence. I fear that Microsoft values software with flaws that will help them sell the next version of the software. This is disappointing and short sighted. I think that excellent software may be slightly more expensive to produce in the short run but inspires user loyalty that makes it more profitable in the long run. Or maybe I’m just naive.

For all of Microsoft’s talk of innovation I must say that Eclipse is a much better IDE than VS 2005. But then I  haven’t spent the time with VS that I have with Eclipse. Maybe I’ll revise my opinion after I become more familiar with it. If so, I’ll be sure to let you know in this blog.