Microsoft and the Eclipse Foundation have announced they are working together to enable use of Eclipse technology to build Java applications for Windows Vista.
But the two companies' much-anticipated collaboration did not see Microsoft actually joining the open-source tools foundation.
Microsoft and Eclipse are also collaborating on identity management, by linking Eclipse's Higgins Project with Microsoft's CardSpace technology.
Microsoft's efforts were detailed by Sam Ramji, director of platform technology strategy, at the EclipseCon 2008 conference, who was keen to point out Microsoft's efforts in the open-source world, despite its failure to join Eclipse.
Microsoft traditionally has been viewed as the anti-open-source company, but Ramji reeled off a list of accommodations for PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), JBoss, and Novell's Xen hypervisor. He also said Microsoft itself has 200 projects hosted on its CodePlex open-source hosting site.
"Today, we're architecting (sic) our participation in the open-source world," said Ramji, who also directs the open-source lab at Microsoft.
The Java enablement effort for Vista involves collaboration on an SWT (Standard Widget Toolkit) to work with Microsoft's WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation) technology for graphical presentation. This will enable Java to be used an authoring language to write WPF-enabled applications, Ramji said.
SWT is the graphics library used by Eclipse for portability across platforms, said Mike Milinkovich, Eclipse executive director.
Eclipse is in the process of porting SWT to WPF. "Having [Microsoft's] participation is going to make it mean that we're going to be able to do a better job more quickly," Milinkovich said.
Eclipse's port means Eclipse's development platform can run as a first-class platform on Vista. "One of the things you'll be able to do is write an application in Java on Vista, and it will look as good as any application written in C#," said Milinkovich.
The Higgins Project, meanwhile, is a framework to integrate identity, profile, and social relationship information across different sites, applications, and devices. Interoperability between Microsoft's CardSpace and Higgins will provide for reliable, interoperable identity management, Ramji said.
Other possible collaborations also were cited. Ramji said he and Milinkovich have talked about Microsoft building a C# IDE at Eclipse.
Microsoft also is pondering accepting Java as a first-class citizen on the Windows platform, Ramji acknowledged. "I think there's enough interest to start taking a look at that," he said.
The Wiseman project, offering a Java implementation of the WS-Management stack for Web services, also was mentioned by Ramji.
However, analyst Michael Cote of RedMonk was sceptical of Microsoft's efforts. "We need some more fine print to make sure there's not any weird clauses like that 'not for commercial use' stuff in the Microsoft interop memo, from a few weeks ago" he said.