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Microsoft kills Visual Studio's Oracle data connection

Swift reaction: 'Sucks', 'shortsighted'

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Coders have reacted with disappointment and frustration to Microsoft's decision to cease development of a connector to Oracle in its .NET Framework, a move that looks like another budget cut.

Microsoft has said it will no longer develop OracleClient, or System.Data.OracleClient, with the the up-coming .NET Framework 4.0. It will still be included with the framework but will be "marked as deprecated."

The .NET Framework 4.0 is the basis of Visual Studio 2010 - both due later this year - and therefore the programming model for new and recent versions of Windows. Oracle is the industry's number-one database in terms market share.

"We strongly recommend customers to use our partners' ADO.NET Provider for Oracle instead of continuing to use Microsoft's OracleClient for new application development," ADO.NET OracleClient program manager Himanshu Vasishth blogged. He added Microsoft would continue to provide bug fixes for "critical" issues in OracleClient and development of new applications using OracleClient would be supported.

It's a sudden change given that the clock's ticking on Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0. The reason given was the result of "several" discussions with a "number" of customers, internal and external partners, and Most Valued Professionals (MVPs).

The responses to Vasishth and the sheer number of Tweets on the subject Thursday morning suggest developers see the change as shortsighted by Microsoft and bad news for them. They feel Microsoft has left them hanging, and their job is about to get harder.

Developers who are short on time and IT budgets will very soon be forced to find and pay for those third-party products. Furthermore, such products can vary in quality, and there's a tendency for features to lag those found in the main .NET Framework. Often, you can rely on the platform provider - Microsoft - to deliver the latest features because it's in their own interests to stay current.

Commenter Scott Slayer wrote in response to Vasishth: "Well, this definitely sucks to hear. Almost any application I write for Oracle (a lot over the last few years) uses that client System.Data.OracleClient because it, unlike anything provided from Oracle directly, actually works and does it very well. Now I'm being told to go third-party?"

A poster known simply as Banker added: "OMG, 80 per cent of our applications are using this provider and now you told me that I have to pay for a rubish [sic] 3rd party provider?"

Ivan Tomlinson wrote: "If I'm an in-house developer creating a small intranet application that has to run against Oracle, I don't want to have to research Oracle providers and battle the purchasing process and figure out the deployment issues. I want to use what's in the framework.

"What bugs me is the deprecation: the fact that if I now use OracleClient, I'm going to get compiler errors."

There were also strong words for Oracle's Data Provider for .NET. Will Smith wrote: "I've tried using ODP.Net in the past and it's been a real pain because the libraries are version specific. Must have 10g ODP.Net for 10g install, 11g for 11g, etc. I never had to worry about that with OracleClient. I tried twice to switch to ODP (for the additional features) and gave up because of the versioning issues."

Vasishth had justified Microsoft's decision saying that "a large portion" of customers" use partners' ADO.NET providers, adding that these are regularly updated and "provide the same level of quality and support that customers have come to expect from Microsoft."

Given the responses to Assist's comments, things would seem otherwise.

Furthermore, there's a suggestion that Microsoft is killing its development efforts as part of the overall corporate strategy of cutting costs to get through the recession. Microsoft has been re-configuring product teams and cut projects and business units that are considered small and non-core but that, naturally, have a financial cost associated with them.

Work on .NET Framework 4.0 and Visual Studio 2010 is well underway. Importantly, Vasishth noted it would take "significant" investment in OracleClient by Microsoft "to bring it at parity with our partners based providers."

In the current climate, that investment will simply not be made available when the cost of building and maintaining ADO.NET connectors can be picked up by third parties and partners with related products. ®

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