Hejlsberg: That all depends on how you look at it. You can download the Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions for nothing, and I would argue that in many ways they are better, more deeply integrated tools than some of the stuff you can do with Eclipse. And conversely, with Eclipse you typically end up paying money anyway because you buy a particular distribution of it and you buy it as part of [IBM] WebSphere or whatever and you actually do pay money. So it's not that clear, it's a bit of a fallacy that everything is free in that space and everything costs money with our platform.
InfoWorld: Have you worked with the Eclipse environment at all?
Hejlsberg: I've played with it, but I don't use it day to day because I don't code in that environment day to day.
InfoWorld: What was your impression of it?
Hejlsberg: Oh, I think it's got lots of nice stuff. It's definitely a real product, I mean, no doubt about it.
InfoWorld: What do you think the endgame is for Eclipse? Take over the industry?
Hejlsberg: It certainly seems to be taking over a lot of the Java IDE industry, but that's just me observing what's going on there.
InfoWorld: In the past few months you have BEA, Borland, and now Macromedia using Eclipse as a basis for a lot of their technology. What do you think that means? That software companies are relying on the Eclipse IDE?
Hejlsberg: It's a good question. I think in many ways it makes it harder for these companies to control their own destiny when the IDE has been commoditized to the extent that you're now just writing plug-ins to an IDE as opposed to actually bringing a new IDE to the world. By the way, with Borland, not all of their tools are based on that. They also have a whole offering for .Net, the Delphi [technology].
InfoWorld: Are there any open source plans for Visual Studio or anything other than what Microsoft's already done with the Shared Source initiative?
Hejlsberg: No. Not to my knowledge, no.
InfoWorld: What is your take on Mono?
Hejlsberg: Oh, I think it's great, I think it's proof that standardization works, that the work that we've done in ECMA to standardize CLI [Common Language Infrastructure] and C# actually has [results] and we have seen completely independent third-party implementations of the infrastructure. So I think it's a good thing. I think it's more good for us than bad for us.
InfoWorld: During a panel discussion last night, one of the speakers, from a college, said his school has anti-Microsoft people, but so does every college. What would you say to the anti-Microsoft crowd, either corporations or universities or whatever, about Microsoft?
Hejlsberg: I've been at Microsoft now for about eight years, and I've certainly seen a big shift in the attitude from the company toward its customers. There's much more transparency at Microsoft now, there's much more openness. You see, I don't even know how many hundreds or [maybe] thousands of bloggers that we have inside Microsoft talking about exactly what's going on. [There's] much more customer interaction. And I think the whole attitude and the whole approach with which we developed .Net and had deep involvement of third-party language implementers from the very beginning of the platform goes to show that really it is a different Microsoft. And it is a different approach to our customers and I think we've gotten much better at listening than we were when I started.
InfoWorld: You would say that whole anti-Microsoft attitude started because Microsoft's customer relations were not as good as they should have been?
Hejlsberg: I mean you could say that's perhaps part of it, but quite honestly I think there is a mechanism in humanity that says once you get to be the biggest you get to get all the arrows in the back, and that's just how it is.
InfoWorld: Are there any plans at Microsoft to port to any other chips besides Intel-compatible or any plan to support any OS besides Windows?
Hejlsberg: Not in my domain, no.