Suite yourself – Why the label “created by microsoft” doesn’t matter

For some time now, I am working on the windows platform again using .NET 3.5, C# and ASP.NET. With more and more functional programming elements introduced into the .NET platform such as LINQ I really prefer C# over Java.

However one thing that bothers me and is very often accountered is the sheer awe of microsoft. Every solution for a problem provided by them have to be the best by definition.

“written by Microsoft” – While this may not mean anything to you, it is significant to me. These guys probably have more development expertise in .NET than I do. I know they have more development budget than I do and probably anyone I’m ever going to work for.

Carey Cilyok

While this statement is probably true, it misses some critical points:

  1. Development of open source projects utilizes the development skills of many thousands of developers, which should even surpass microsofts budget.
  2. It doesn’t really matter how big a budget is, since Microsoft solutions are aimed for a broad market they grow and grow to suit the needs of just about anyone while open source solutions direct their development efforts at a certain target audience, hence fitting their needs better. Just take ruby on rails as an example. They created an innovative web development framework which Microsoft is going to “borrow” ideas from for ASP MVC.

As John Snyder pointed out:

The reason I like Java better, and it out weights all of C#’s advantages, is the perceived attitude of the Java community. When I look around at what is going on in the Java community I see many people working on all kinds of interesting things. There is an attitude of “Hey that would be cool, I’ll build it”. When I look around at the .NET community I get the sense that people are waiting around for Microsoft to provide all the infrastructure.

Bottomline, Microsoft solutions are quite good, but definitely the lable “written by Microsoft” doesn’t mean much. Small companies can focus more on the things microsoft missed. As a developer take Resharper or Visual Assist X as example. Once you tried it would you still like to miss it? However while some companies spend much money on upgrades of visual studio, some don’t see the benefits of investing in small tools like the above mentioned.

Sometimes we would do better if we trust in ourselfs more, since we know best what we really need. We should be able to find what suites our needs best.


2 thoughts on “Suite yourself – Why the label “created by microsoft” doesn’t matter

  1. Thomas,

    Thanks for reading my blog but I think you may have misinterpreted the point of my comment. I do all of my development (for the past 15 years or so anyway) on Windows platforms. Therefore when I needed an implementation like EL to address cross-cutting development concerns, I chose a Microsoft solution. I could have easily selected something like Spring.NET or Castle Windsor and gotten good 3rd party support.

    The 3rd party support was really the point I was making. In larger systems I have to deal with, bringing in a 3rd party tool means I don’t want to support it – I want to use it. MS has shown a track record now of supporting the patterns & practices group. Having MS who a) has plenty of funds to support p&p (and by extension EL) and b) a wealth of .NET expertise in house – allows me to use EL with little concern that I’ll lose long-term, high-quality support.

    Your point that the more general open source community has a great amount of expertise and a driven mind set is well taken, though. My “awe” is actually reserved for any group that shows that driven mind set. Reading over some of your writing, I’d be more likely to be in “awe” of you than a corporate entity.

    Due to being on temporary duty to visit the units I’m going to be supporting on my new job and my obsession to learn more about functional programming techniques, I’m not blogging with the regularity I’d like but hope you’ll continue reading.

    Again, thank you for reading and thank you for your constructive criticism. All input helps.


  2. Hi Carey,
    thanks for your comment. By the way, I am looking forward to more posts on EntLib 4.1 and the most useful CABs 🙂

    I have been developing with MS Visual Studio for about 8 years now. However I made quite different observations during this time:

    Long time support: Just take a look at MFC, WinForms, WPF. You would be right to say that MFC is still supported and widely used, however I guess just few would use it for a new project. To me it feels like every 3-5 years there is a something new to learn and every company hiring needs you to have at least 2 years of experience in the newest (1 year old) hype. No technology is here to stay for long. We just have to keep on learning all the time.

    3rd party support: Taking a look at ASP.NET and comparing it to e.g. Ruby on Rails, I think that I would have needed more coaching on .NET. Especially then 3rd party controls come into play it gets ugly fast. Guess your framework just have to fit your style of working. If you are used to WinForms, then WebForms might be for you. For me, ASP MVC might be more natural (I still have to take a close look at it).

    Well, all I wanted to say is. Choose the framework that fits your style of development, don’t count too much on microsoft doing it “right”.

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