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Ada suppliers court Microsoft

Vista and .Net are platform for embedded apps

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Two of the leading Ada language tool suppliers have Microsoft Windows firmly in their sights for a renewed push into the application development market. Adacore announced Vista support for its Gnat Pro development environment at the end of July and is expected to follow this up with full .Net support next week. Meanwhile, its rival, San Diego-based Aonix, announced Vista support along with Visual Studio .Net tool support for its ObjectAda product last week.

During the 1980s Ada was seen very much as the future of programming and, with support from its powerful sponsor, the US Department of Defense (DoD), was expected to replace Cobol as the leading programming language. But the language's complexity and rigorous training requirements saw it overtaken by what were considered by some to be 'easier' languages, such as C, C++, Java and Basic.

When DoD abandoned its mandate for Ada in 1997, it was expected that the language would either disappear or become restricted to niche markets for mission-critical projects. But despite this, by 2005, more than $5.6bn worth of Ada software existed worldwide, according to Ada Resource Association (ARA).

Now with the increased demand for resilient software in areas such as medicine and the automotive industry, Ada demand is rising again. Even financial services companies are seeing its potential for building resilient applications. The move to Microsoft's mainstream platform is another sign that Ada has a strong future.

Jamie Ayre, marketing manager at Adacore, says the decision to take Gnat Pro on to Vista and .Net was a response to customer demand: "We support many platforms but the X86 Windows platform is without doubt the most popular with our customers. We are seeing Ada used increasingly in areas outside its traditional niche in aerospace and defence. It has particular advantages for developing real time applications."

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