Microsoft broadening development tools' reach

New tools aimed at Adobe Systems users

Microsoft's developer division is readying a slew of new products, including a set of multimedia design tools aimed at Adobe Systems users. Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of the developer unit, spoke with Eric Lai this week. Excerpts follow.

Some people in your division have already blogged that the next version of Visual Studio, code-named Orcas, will be released this year. True?

We are about to release the first beta of Orcas. It's not feature-complete, as we plan to put out a second beta later this year. Orcas will have a consistent programming model that spans multiple platforms -- the Web, Vista, Longhorn Server, etc. That way, you as a developer only have to learn one programming model and understand one set of tools.

In Visual Studio 2003, we were really fixated on the professional developer. In Visual Studio 2005, we were focused on the beginning developer. With Orcas, we plan to cover the breadth of developers.

Users don't always welcome new tools, especially if they replace old ones.

For example, there have been the petitions asking you not to retire Visual Basic 6 and, recently, Visual FoxPro.

It's hard to hear that you have to go and learn something else. Some of these transitions have been smooth, others not so smooth. We want to be mindful that when transitions occur, there is a good reason and real customer benefit to them.

How do you plan to entice graphic and Web designers to use your new Expression and Silver­light tools?

They tend to be extremely loyal to Adobe.

I understand why you would say that. Our thinking is that [Web] developers will appreciate the deep collaboration they will be able to have with developers working in Visual Studio. I also think it's a matter of showing that we will continue to provide more value with our products. And I think that people do change over time.

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