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Microsoft hugs Eclipse for Windows 7 and Azure love

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Microsoft is reaching out to open-source and Java developers through Eclipse with delivery of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and the pending arrival of its Azure cloud.

Microsoft said that it's working with Eclipse developer Tasktop Technologies to update existing Eclipse desktop and interface projects so that they work properly with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 - released last week.

Also announced were PHP and Java tools for building and deploying applications on Azure.

As part of the tools news, Microsoft said the long-awaited environment for building interfaces and media content using its Silverlight player inside Eclipse has also been delivered. Called Eclipse4SL, the environment was due this spring.

Unperturbed, Microsoft and its Eclipse4SL partner Soytec have now pegged version two of Eclipse4SL for another spring date: spring 2010.

Speaking during the Eclipse Summit in Ludwigsburg, Germany, Microsoft promised a number of updates to the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP) and the Standard Widget Toolkit (SWT) with Tasktop Technologies. The first changes are promised for completion in the first quarter of next year.

These updates will see the RCP and SWT updated to work with the Windows 7 taskbar and jump lists. The idea is, for example, that you could launch an Eclipse build through your Windows 7 jump list.

Also promised in this wave are native find, search, and filtering for Windows 7, and improvements to the look and feel of the Eclipse shell and toolbars on Windows 7.

Microsoft is also reaching out to PHP and Java developers interested in building on the cloud, with its Azure service that's due for an official launch at the company's Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, California, next month.

The company announced Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse for PHP, a Windows Azure Software Developer Kit (SDK) for Java, and Eclipse4SL 1.0.

Microsoft announced a year ago it was delivering funds, architectural and technical guidance, and project management to Soyatec to build Eclipse4SL. The idea is that Eclipse4SL would let developers build Silverlight applications and talk with coders and designers in Microsoft's Visual Studio and Microsoft Expression Studio tools.

The plan had been for a final release in Spring 2009 following delivery of a "feature complete" offering two months after the October 2008 announcement of the Eclipse4SP project.

Microsoft did not account for the slip, but – instead - published a roadmap that promised general availability of Eclipse4SL 2.0 in the Spring of 2010. Version 2.0 will update Eclipse4SL to support Silverlight 3.0, released this year, among other changes.

On PHP, the new plug-in offers developers a set of wizards and utilities to write, debug, configure, and deploy PHP applications to Azure, and includes an Azure storage explorer that allows developers to browse data contained in the Azure tables, blobs, or queues. The SDK for Java lets developers use Azure storage services for storing data and - Microsoft said - provides simple development methods for writing web applications. ®

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