Besieged by competitors and critics of Microsoft, Windows programmers at the recent Developer Days conference in the US insisted not only that the new development suite Visual Studio 6.0 is a rich Web development environment, but that it also works well with non-Microsoft products.
A few developers even said the suite has strengthened their desire to leave behind Unix for Windows. The developers' resolve overcame the efforts of an aggressive squadron of Oracle employees who encircled the conference centre, passing out literature that accused Visual Studio of being proprietary and ill-suited for Web development.
Many users disagreed. "Microsoft is the only show in town as far as I'm concerned," said Graham Churchley, the principal engineer at Infinity, which makes enterprise software for trading and risk management for banks like American Express Bank.
US banks run Infinity software on either Unix or NT. Although in most enterprises, the bottom tier that hosts the data will likely remain Unix-based, the use of Microsoft's Component Object Model has recently allowed Infinity to develop for Windows clients on the top tier. With Windows on their desktops, Churchley said, traders can use a familiar Excel front end.
Susan Luna, information technology development manager at Digital Link, said the company used to base its Web site on Unix, using C and Perl. But the networking equipment company wanted access to a broader set of development tools, so it migrated to a Windows environment when it developed its online order-tracking and systems-configuration software.
Larry Perlstein, a Dataquest analyst, agreed with developers in that Visual Studio's viability for distributed corporate computing is improving but cautioned that Visual Studio "still has a way to go to be classified as an enterprise tool".
He said the product needs greater scalabi-lity, better interoperability and better tools to manage deployed applications.