Microsoft isn’t scary anymore

There, I said it.

Today, if Microsoft announced a direct competitor to Code Collaborator, I don’t think it would affect our sales at all. And if they actually shipped a competitor, I don’t think we’d notice that either.

In the 90′s, a pre-announcement by Microsoft of a non-existent product could destroy a product line. The demise of Turbo Basic was an example (although in retrospect it was probably dead anyway…).

But now it’s clear that Microsoft can’t release a major product. As a shipping date approaches, the list of features shrinks, the new ship date is later, and betas never seem to settle down into stability. To this day Visual Studio devotees are easily amazed by features in other IDE’s that have been around for years.

Compound that with Microsoft’s self-imposed cross-product dependencies (e.g. Team Foundation Server, SQL Server), and now a slip in one component slips the others.

With each passing year we get fewer requests for Visual Studio plug-ins and more for Eclipse. With each passing year we continue to get requests for support in the latest edition of NetBeans but Visual Studio 2005 is still on the cutting edge for most of our Visual Studio customers.

If VS 2005 is still the most relevant Microsoft development platform, and as a percentage of serious development shops its share is decreasing, than how worried would I have to be to see a competitive product in VS 2008? Or one announced for VS 2009? When will that ship? And will that also take 3-4 years for adoption?

If anything it would help. Any press Microsoft can muster for a competitive feature means some people might be interested or convinced of its usefulness. Then with any Google searching they’ll find us doing it nicely, available today.

So, oddly, I hope Microsoft tries to compete with us!

P.S. This is not meant to imply “Microsoft’s death is inevitable.” Microsoft is a big company with many factors determining its health and trajectory and lifespan. But they sure seem to be losing their grip on software developers.