Microsoft will unveil on Wednesday several open source initiatives to boost interoperability between Microsoft technologies, such as Windows 7, Windows Azure, and Silverlight, and open source technologies, including the Eclipse tools platform and Java.
Although the company has at times been viewed as the commercial opposite of the open source movement, the company's latest gestures to the open source community show Microsoft is willing to make moves that can assist open source devotees build products that rely on Microsoft's products. Microsoft is working with Tasktop Technologies and Soyatec in projects and technologies being unveiled Tuesday.
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"This is part of our ongoing efforts to make our products more open," said Vijay Rajagopalan, principal architect for the Microsoft interoperability strategy team.
In partnership with Eclipse solutions provider Tasktop, Microsoft is looking to enhance the developer experience of Eclipse on the newly released Windows 7 platform. Support is being extended to run the Eclipse IDE on Windows 7 and also to build Windows 7 applications.
The two companies will develop updates to the Eclipse IDE to incorporate features of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. The intention, according to Microsoft, is to ensure that the "improved" productivity and user experience of Windows 7 will be available to developers using the Eclipse IDE and also to desktop applications built on the Eclipse platform.
Developers will be able to access Windows 7 functionality such as Jump Lists from the redesigned Windows 7 task bar. Jump Lists enable access to Eclipse-specific functions. Also, the project will extend Eclipse Standard Widget Toolkit to integrate Windows 7 features such as task bar display of progress and search widget integration. Updates also will modernize the look and feel of Eclipse to match the Windows 7 user interface experience.
"We are working with Tasktop to improve the developer experience on Windows 7," Rajagopalan said.
Tasktop will contribute enhancements to the Eclipse that will be available under the Eclipse Public License for early access in the first quarter of 2010. General release is planned for the Eclipse Helios technology release train in June 2010.
Windows remains a critical platform for Eclipse users, stressed Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop. "Over three-quarters of Eclipse downloads are of the Windows distribution," he said.
"This joint effort between Tasktop and Microsoft is going to bring those new enhancements in Windows 7 into the hands of Eclipse IDE users," Kersten said.
Microsoft also is announcing an open source plug-in, called Windows Azure Tools for Eclipse, to give PHP developers more flexibility in developing Web applications for the Windows Azure cloud platform. The plug-in, available as a free download, features wizards and utilities for writing, debugging, and deploying PHP applications to Azure.
"Essentially, it's an open source plugin that will enable PHP developers using Eclipse to create PHP Web applications," Rajagopalan said. The technology is available for download.
The existing Windows SDK for PHP is bundled into the Eclipse PHP project through the plug-in, which also includes a Windows Azure "storage explorer" to browse data contained in Azure tables, blobs, or queues.