What is a platform anyway?

The term “platform” has been somewhat hijacked in recent times by various database (and other) vendors who feel they can get away with using the term in a slightly twisted context.

Platform used to mean the ability “to develop on”.

Platform is now being used in the context of “to develop to”.

So in the new reimagined platform world, a platform is any base of technologies upon which other technologies, applications, data blocks or even dedicated computing processes are built.

Purist view

While the purist view might remain that a platform must consist of an operating system consideration and connection points to the instruction set of a microprocessor to carry out application logic, we are increasingly getting used to both definitions of the term.

In the “develop to” world of platform we do not necessarily also find a dedicated computer programming language, although some specific alignment to language will often exist.

Should we baulk at this wider use of the term?

Consider the fact that Microsoft has just graduated Bing from search engine to higher-grade platform status. Say what you like about Microsoft, but the company does know how to contrast fully-fledged computing platforms.

What comes next?

The new developer services in Bing are being described as an ‘Intelligent Fabric’ to use across Microsoft products and this will — “help people interact with the world’s knowledge and their surroundings in a more human way” — so there you have it.

If you hear the term “Intelligent Web Platform Fabric”, you may officially run and hide.