Oracle Says Developers Leaving MSDN; Microsoft Disagrees

NEW YORK -- Depending on who you ask the question of whether Microsoft developers are remaining Microsoft developers can elicit a myriad of responses. Oracle Corp. made a slew of announcements concerning its developers at Internet World on Wednesday, one of which implies that the ark of developers sailing around Redmond is losing passengers and that their life rafts are heading south to Oracle HQ.

"For the first time in a decade, Microsoft's developer community is up for grabs," says Jeremy Burton, vice president of Internet platform marketing for Oracle Corp., speaking about the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN). "They want to get to know the fashionable technologies." Burton says those include Java, XML and Linux.

Oracle cites a 1,000 percent increase in membership, from 40,000 to 400,000, of the Oracle Technology Network (OTN, http://technet.oracle.com) as evidence of the MSDN exodus. Oracle also reports that more than 50 percent of new OTN members since February 1999 identify themselves as former Windows-only developers.

"I’m surprised that anyone takes any words that comes out of Oracle representatives mouths as seriously baring any resemblance to real data," counters Charles Fitzgerald, director of business development at Microsoft. "The Oracle statements are just absolute wishful thinking."

According to Fitzgerald, the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) has over 2 million members, many of whom not only register through the Web site but pay money to get the CD-ROMs and materials Microsoft continues to provide. He also says Visual Basic 6.0 is the best selling version of the development tool ever and Visual Studio Enterprise Suite has experienced 100 percent growth in the last fiscal year.

And to Oracle’s stance that developers are leaving MSDN to learn Java and XML, Fitzgerald says facts just don’t back that up. He says only 5 or 6 percent of worldwide developers are actively using Java, in contrast to 45 percent using Visual Basic. Also, Microsoft has been renowned for being a standards driver on the XML front, supporting the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS, www.oasis-open.org) movement and Microsoft’s own BizTalk initiatives. Microsoft also launched the XML Developer Center (http://msdn.microsoft.com/xml) which Fitzgerald says is being well received in the developer community.

"Without anything to back it up, it sounds like anecdotal evidence," says Thomas Dwyer, research director for the Aberdeen Group (www.aberdeen.com). "If you were to see some exclusive membership moving from Microsoft because they’re becoming a member of another network you could say there’s a trend here but just saying they’re joining Oracle doesn’t mean they’re leaving Microsoft."

Dwyer explains that just because a developer signs up for one network doesn’t mean they’re leaving another. Many developers are signed up across a multitude of networks because they’re continuously building applications for different platforms.

At Internet World, Oracle announced it’s increased its commitment to OTN by launching a new site with expanded professional resources, software and support for developers. Developers can now take part in topic-based communities and find an "Ask Oracle" forum for direct interaction with Oracle experts.

Also announced were the availabilities of Oracle Application Server 4.0.8 (OAS) and Oracle JDeveloper 3.0 and their support for Oracle's new Business Components for Java (BC4J). Similar to Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFCs) for building desktop applications, BC4J makes building Java server applications easier and more productive. The new version also has increased support for Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), Java Servlets and Java Server Pages (JSPs).

Using separate technologies it got from Halcyon and VisualEdge, Oracle is opening OAS to Microsoft technologies. Halcyon's Instant ASP provides a Java runtime environment for Microsoft Active Server Pages (ASPs). VisualEdge's ObjectBridge for COM-CORBA allows COM objects residing on NT to call remotely to EJB.