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IT's all good

Posted by evanx on November 12, 2006 at 10:46 AM PST

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It's an "interesting" time for our industry, and for ourselves as Java developers, innit!? "But why?" Cos i reckon that "diversity" is what defines "interesting." And it's on the up and up.

Microsoft's commoditisation of computing

I don't wish to bash Microsoft, and i won't. I don't think they deserve it. They facilitated the commoditisation of computing. Arguably, they made computing accessible to everyone. The problem was that diversity had to suffer too. But now our industry is normalising itself, and growing up quite nicely.

Microsoft envisaged a world were everyone had a computer, and the opensource-ness of the hardware platform made that possible. The volumes made the software cheap. Microsoft can sell something that costs a billion dollars to develop and market, for fifty dollars a piece. Cheap at the price.

The problem was that in this vision, every computer would be running Windows. And all software running on those computers would be written in Visual Basic or C/C++ by Microsoft or a certified Microsoft ISV Partner. Thank goodness Sun invented Java! ;)

We are still living in a Microsoft world, notwithstanding opensource, the resurgence of Apple (and hopefully Sun), and the ascendency of Google. Microsoft is here to stay. Only, they gonna adjust their goals from "total world domination" to just plain "world domination," which is of course every company's goal, and every opensource project's goal too ;) Fortunately for us, no one is going to achieve total world domination. That is now clear, thank goodness.

In the 90s, after Microsoft had trounced Apple and IBM, it seemed that the diversity of our industry was in its descendency. What's exciting today, is that it's on the ascendency again. It's normalising itself.

Open world

Nowadays we got open commodity hardware, from handhelds right through to supercomputers, and not only the x86, but also Power and OpenSparc. And open software, not only OSes like the BSDs, Linux and Solaris, but the full spectrum right from developer tools like Netbeans and Eclipse, through to desktop software used by everyone like OpenOffice and Firefox, through to databases and enterprise stacks. This keeps our industry honest and hard working.

The opensource desktop is gonna be great, and will give Apple and Microsoft a run for their money. But there'll be no world domination for any of these three, just a diversity of great choices for the consumer.


We already feel that Java is gaining momentum, notwithstanding the other great options that are out there. And the opensourcing of Java will spur this on, to an extent that will suprise even ourselves.

Naturally, Microsoft will counter, and maybe they already have with their alliance with Novell, who represents opensource .Net on Linux. But competition is your own best enemy.

All good

If projects like Java and C#, GNOME and KDE, Netbeans and Eclipse, or Linux and Solaris, were to "combine" as some people suggest, the sum of the whole will be much less than the sum of its parts. This healthy competition nourishes and inspires these projects.

So it's all good. More diversity. Less world domination. I like.