How Microsoft “Acquires” New .NET Features

I just finished reading David Starr’s recent Open Letter to Scott Guthrie.  I must say bravo!  David, you have hit a lot of good points about the apparent strategy Microsoft has been employing recently regarding the way new features are brought into the development tool-set.

David points out the way some of the features that have been rolled into the .NET Framework or into the Visual Studio Team System lately have had roots in the open source community.  Examples of the unit testing, MS Build, etc..  Most of these are welcome additions to developers that have lived without them, however those of us that were early adopters of NUnit, NAnt and other projects realize that these pale in comparison to the current releases.

Microsoft has done a lot for the development community, don’t get me wrong.  I love the .NET Framework, the productivity and power it brings.  I also believe that Microsoft has had some successes with their new features.  The ASP.NET AJAX extensions exceeded my expectations.  After using other open source libraries such as Michael Schwarz’s Ajax.NET, and then seeing some of the earlier ATLAS releases I though that Microsoft was on a path to “do it again.”  I decided to give the RTM a try and was pleasantly surprised with the jump they made from some of the CTP’s to release.  Way to go guys!

I have two friends that are former Microsoft employees.  One was with MS for over a decade and as such has what I (and others) like to refer to as “Microsoft Blinders”.  His enthusiasm is great, however he fails to give most non-Microsoft technologies much of a chance.  This is too bad and I feel that, although he is brilliant, this limits him slightly.  Don’t get me wrong, I highly respect his skills, his architecture and he is a great person.  It does lead me to believe that many inside of Microsoft share this viewpoint and that may be the reason they bring some of these features on the way that they do.

Scott and crew, please take Davids letter seriously.  There is an army of .NET developers out here who are genuinely happy with the framework.  Please don’t dishearten those of us that have used these open source libraries with less-than implementations of your own and do not make us wait for the fabled “version 3” which we all feel to be the first “usable” release of most Microsoft products.  When there is already something in the community that fits the bill, giving us less hurts.  You have the resources and the talent, live up to the vision!

One thing though David, what’s with the rabbit ears?  I suppose it may be antenae however such as those worn by Arthur from The Tick.

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2 thoughts on “How Microsoft “Acquires” New .NET Features

  1. I saw this yesterday and thought he made a good argument. The reason I’ve heard for duplicating NUnit and NAnt was because they wanted the functionality in Visual Studio, but couldn’t include them or make Visual Studio dependent on them.

    Microsoft is making Linq to Entities which seems to compete with NHibernate and ActiveRecord and there’s this new MVC framework which sounds like it might compete with Monorail. In these cases too the Microsoft version will probably be added to Visual Studio so that it can have gui designers, generate code, etc. It’s almost like Microsoft won’t support something unless there is a drag and drop designer for it.

    I don’t know, maybe most of the developers working on these competing products really aren’t aware of the open source versions. Or maybe not, looking at how similar MSBuild is to NAnt and MSTest is to NUnit.

  2. I understand the reasoning as well, and I for one commend the idea, it is the implementation that I, and I think the author of the article, are pointing at. Microsoft definitely has the resources and the talent. If they want to include the functionality, bravo, but give it the effort that the existing projects already have rather than include something that is not as feature rich and mature.

    If they do not want to do that or cannot for budgetary reasons, make it easier to integrate the existing projects.

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