Microsoft gets it so right... and so wrong

The programming-specific press is in something of a maelstrom over the highs and lows of what Microsoft does so (arguably) well… and what the company still gets so (arguably, arguably) well, just a bit wrong.

The firm’s “oh alright then we like open source after all if everyone else does” stance was perhaps embarrassingly slipshod to start with.

But initial cheesiness has arguably been all but eradicated by:

a) The leadership of the (arguably) very excellent Jean Paoli as president of the Microsoft Open Technologies initiative.

b) Microsoft’s open embrace of open cloud

c) Microsoft’s serious approach to Hadoop, Drupal, Pyhton, Node.js

d) Microsoft open sourcing more of its .Net developer framework and a wider open sourcing across its programming languages overall.

On point d) in particular — the crème de la crème of the planet’s software application development journalist community were invited to Redmond in April for the Microsoft Build 2014 conference to hear news of the company partnering with Xamarin, a move set to create a new .Net Foundation with a more open source outlook overall.

Yay for Redmond

Dr Dobb’s Journal meanwhile was full of plaudits for Microsoft this month with an editorial leader entitled Redmond’s Remarkable Reversal.

Editor Andrew Binstock writes, “Many factors have contributed to Redmond’s surprising success, but two in particular stand out: Microsoft embraced the cloud early and vocally, and it began delivering new software releases much more quickly.”

He continues, still positive and upbeat, “In Visual Studio for the cloud, Microsoft is putting itself on the cutting edge of development by inviting programmers to explore a completely new way of coding and product delivery.”

… and yet so wrong at the same time

So Microsoft is wonderful after all then?

Even Windows 8 is going to get a start button back (another treat the lucky Build press got to hear about), a process that Tim Anderson called part of a “painful transition” …

… although this (as Anderson points out) will still not fix the drought and famine the world currently experiences for full ‘Metro’-style applications.

Boo hiss, nasty Redmond

Mike James on i-programmer isn’t happy either.

James bemoans the reticence, caginess and ok then downright old stubbornness Microsoft has exhibited over its refusal to open source VB6.

VB6 (or Visual Basic 7) is programming language and IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that dates back to the heady CD-ROM centric days of 1991.

Today the Visual Basic 6.0 Resource Center is mainly focused on selling your migration and “upgrades from” than championing that which was once much loved.

James bemoans the fact that Microsoft “killed” VB6 but now refuses to open source the language despite the firm’s “warmth” for open source.

“Now that they no longer have any interest in it one way or another, and with a new commitment to open source, why not let the community have VB6?”

He continues, “You could say that it occupied the position that JavaScript does now – misunderstood, misused and commonly thought to be ugly and inadequate. However, used correctly it could be simple, clean and elegant. After all it was the driving force behind VB .NET which took the language in a different direction while trying to maintain its easy-to-use aspects.”

Do programmers still really love Microsoft then?

It’s hard to say — your erstwhile reporter last attended a Microsoft developer convention in 2005 and the crowd went wild for Vista.

Who knows?

Maybe they were still whooping over the Bill Gates & Napoleon Dynamite video that was shown on the day.

Bill Gates Goes to School with Napoleon Dynamite from Angela Marie Baxley Glass on Vimeo.