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Eclipse challenges Microsoft delivery reliability

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The Eclipse Foundation is stepping up its developer challenge to Microsoft with a coordinated tools release calculated to attract vendors and IT shops targeting the delayed Windows Vista.

Eclipse, which is number-two in tools market share behind Microsoft's Visual Studio according to analysts, is today expected to announce 23 of its projects, run by 10 teams, have been simultaneously updated and released for the first time under its Callisto initiative. You can check out what's in Callisto here.

Eclipse has in recent years developed a habit of using June to deliver new versions of its underlying platform. Tools from Eclipse's 63 tools projects, though, would generally be updated by project teams during the following one to eight weeks.

This has produced reliability problems for developers who use different Eclipse tools. Callisto is designed to iron out version compatibility problems between the underlying Eclipse platform and tools, and also ensure developers no longer need wait for eight weeks for all the modules they use to become compatible.

Among the features in this latest edition of Eclipse are tools to build and deploy applications to Microsoft's Widows Vista platform. Eclipse is starting to nip at Visual Studio's heels according to analyst Evans Data Corp, and Eclipse earlier this year begain encouraging Windows developers to check out its Rich Client Platform (RCP) project on the basis that their applications will have backwards compatibility between Windows Vista and older versions of Windows.

No wonder then, with Windows Vista facing repeated delays, Eclipse is crowing about its reliability as a provider of new technologies to Windows developers.

Eclipse executive director Mike Milinkovic told The Register: "Eclipse wants to be a predictable supplier of technology. With a track record of three releases since the foundation was created we have a claim to make that we can be very predictable and reliable. We have a development process that works extremely well and governance model that allows coordination of 10 teams."

That's particularly important for Eclipse which has been trying to raise its profile among CIOs and CTOs. As far as Milinkovic is concerned, Eclipse has cracked the nut of successfully delivering projects because it uses an agile development methodology that churns out pre-release milestones every six weeks.

Microsoft has attempted to emulate this with Community Technology Previews (CTPs) - which Milinkovic dismissed as "an alpha by another name" - but CTPs have clearly failed to guarantee a timely or reliable delivery schedule for Windows Vista.

With Callisto delivered, Eclipse is already drawing up plans for next June's release which Milinkovic said would likely include additional Eclipse projects. "Frankly, Microsoft is demonstrating they have been having difficulty shipping software and they can learn a lot from a community based approach like Eclipse," he said.

In further news, it looks as if Eclipse could finally be getting some decent management capabilities. The proliferation of Eclipse projects and plug ins has produced problems in performance and managing of developers' Eclipse-based tools. Milinkovic said, though, a number of proposed management projects are now "coming down the pipe," but was unwilling to comment further.®

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