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Visual Studio 2010 opens Windows to outside help

Microsoft 'needs' community

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Microsoft reckons Windows is top dog, but that hasn't stopped the giant from cracking open the door in Visual Studio 2010 to some outside help.

Bob Muglia, Windows server and tools chief, presided over Microsoft's other - less glamorous - Monday product launch, by pushing Windows on PCs, servers, and mobile and the nascent Azure cloud as ready-made markets for developers building and deploying new applications.

He highlighted investments in Visual Studio 2010 and .NET Framework 4.0 to help individuals and teams save time coding and debugging their Windows software.

But Muglia's presentation underscored the challenge that Microsoft faces in persuading developers to use its tools not to deploy to Linux, Apple's iPhone, or Amazon's cloud as an alternatives to Windows.

Muglia highlighted the "big investment" made in the Visual Studio 2010 code editor to improve the way its famed IntelliSense works with Javascript and JQuery, provides support for non-Microsoft Javascript libraries, and brings built-in support for HMTL snippets.

"There's no limit to what can be done on the Microsoft platform, but the reality is it's a heterogeneous world and we want to be a part of that" - Bob Muglia, president Microsoft server and tools

The golden word was "community": Muglia stressed that Visual Studio 2010 takes advantage of the "community's existing work" in JQuery and "made it easier" - the classic Microsoft approach of improving an existing idea's usability.

There was also the "community" of people who can extend the vanilla IDE: Visual Studio 2010 includes what Muglia called a "broad set of extensibility points" - the ability to access functionality from third-party add-ons and search for extensions online without having to leave the safety of the IDE to do a Bing - or worse - Google search. Currently, there's a list of more than 15,000 extensions.

"There's no limit to what can be done on the Microsoft platform, but the reality is it's a heterogeneous world and we want to be a part of that."

Microsoft's head of servers and tools also went on the attack, highlighting the strengths of the Windows platform in all its forms in an increasingly diverse world of open-source tools and server, mobile, and cloud runtimes.

He turned on its head the data point cited by the mobile phone lobby that there are more mobile phones than PCs - a fact used to justify building for mobile instead of the PC.

Muglia pointed out the fragmented nature of mobile phone operating systems and devices, saying Windows is the "largest available, consistent platform in the world." He repeated Microsoft's claim Windows 7 is the faster ever shipping version of Windows.

"Nothing comes as close to the surface area covered by Windows," Muglia said.

He presided over a demonstration of using Visual Studio 2010 to build applications for Azure. But while the IDE features Azure project types, you still need to download the Azure SDK and tools separately to be able to actually Azure applications.

Between the fluff and a hard place

Straddling the online and onsite world, Muglia highlighted SQL Server 2008 R2 DAX, a model-based configuration that will let you save an instance of a configured SQL Server database and apply it to another database or to Microsoft's Azure cloud "in the future."

Having criticized mobile fragmentation, he promoted Microsoft's own walled garden - Windows Phone 7, which has yet to be released. Again, he presided over a demonstration of the Windows Phone 7 emulator in Visual Studio 2010 to build and debug applications, and construction of a C++ application on Windows 7 with multi-point touch, to flip and enlarge pictures on a screen.

Muglia also claimed Windows on x86 is the dominant computer platform. "There's no question the future lies in standard x86 servers and Winnows server is by far the most popular operating system for that," Muglia said.

He was echoing his recent criticism of database rival Oracle for its purchase of Sparc and Solaris king Sun Microsystems. Muglia said in February he couldn't understand a deal that takes us back to the world of highly verticalized companies building mini computers. ®

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