Microsoft: Yoked to WindowsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-08-04 Print
Microsoft has enriched its development tools to be as powerful as Java, some say. Just be prepared to do Windows.
Microsoft has pumped up its software development technologies to be as muscular as Java but still easier to use, some say. But customers must be willing to hitch their apps to Microsoft's wagon. Unlike Java, which runs on a wide variety of operating systems, Microsoft's .NET set of programming tools builds applications that must be run on Windows server software.
Robert Fort, director of information technology at retailer Virgin Entertainment Group, says he routinely evaluates the risk of being locked into Microsoft technology: "I don't want to bleed a color or wear a logo." But he says standardizing on Microsoft development tools has turned out well. "These guys play leapfrog," Fort says of development tools vendors. "And the frog we've been on has served us well."
Maritz' travel incentive services group develops Web sites using both Java and .NET. Scott Loos, director of Web development at the company, says .NET "as an enterprise application platform has grown up. It's now comparable to doing development in Java." In particular, he says, the .NET tools' ability to let developers reuse code has improved.
And some Microsoft customers believe .NET's rapid-development capabilities leave Java in the dust. Vinnie Le, vice president of information systems at corporate housing provider Oakwood Worldwide, says a typical Java development project might take his team nine months, while the same project using .NET would take no more than three. "Being able to deploy these applications fast helps our credibility with the business side," he says.
Microsoft's competitors say au contraireJava has the edge. A recent study commissioned by IBM, conducted by consulting firm Branham Group, found that developers using IBM's Java tools built seven of eight test applications faster than with Visual Studio.
But getting an application out the door quickly doesn't mean it's done the best way. Charles Livingston, vice president of technology at luxury vacation home club Exclusive Resorts, says his team of five developers this year spent more than a month revising code generated by Visual Studio to make it more efficient. "There's enough of 'press this button to get what you want' in Visual Studio to lead inexperienced programmers down the wrong path," he says. "It's not always optimal code."
Microsoft operating results*
Source: Company reports
Total assets - $70.82B
Stockholders' equity - $48.12B
Cash and equivalents - $4.85B
Short-term investments - $32.90B
Long-term debt - None
Shares outstanding - 10.82B
Market value, 7/25 - $275.03B
**As of June 30, 2005, except as noted
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