Today, Microsoft completely changed the web development game, and chances are, you didn't even know it. If you STILL don't think Microsoft "gets it" after today's announcements, you're probably so ensconced in your tech-religious beliefs that there isn't much hope for you anyways.
“Look, I’ve got IronPython using ActiveRecord and LINQ, all inside the Safari browser on my Mac, and I’m debugging it in Visual Studio remotely from my PC.” These kinds of scenarios are in fact becoming possible, and those of us who appreciate all of these components individually will rightly pronounce it cool that they can come together in these ways.
Jon Udell quoted Jon Lam as saying that in a podcast he had right before MIX 07.
Microsoft now has an officially-supported cross-platform implementation of the .NET Framework. That's cross-platform folks, not just cross-browser. That means, in the not too distant future those cool .NET apps you've been working so hard on (you HAVE been building apps on .NET, right?) will run on a Mac too.
But that's not all. Microsoft brought together some of the best minds in dynamic languages together, and built a common platform for implementing dynamic languages like Python and Ruby on top of .NET. It's called the Dynamic Language Runtime, and it plugs into the CLR, allowing anyone to plug in their own dynamic languages, much like you can with the CLR today.
It seems that I was right earlier, when I connected the dots on cross-platform support at the DLR. Oh yeah, and did I mention that the DLR will be open sourced under the BSD license? WHAT?!?!? Microsoft can open-source things too? Holy crap, where is my heart medication?
I don't think I can adequately convey how truly exciting this all is. Ruby is well on it's way to being an officially-supported .NET language, and their goal is to get Ruby on Rails working as well. So now all the really cool stuff going on there won't be confined solely to the LAMP platform. And the subset of .NET running inside Silverlight 1.1 is only a stepping stone to the day when Microsoft has the complete framework running on a Macs as well as PCs.
On a side note, Microsoft also demonstrated how to counter the "anti-1.0 software adoption" syndrome by releasing a beta of Silverlight 1.0 and an alpha of Silverlight 1.1 simultaneously. Genius.
I had a conversation with Robert Scoble about all this right before MIX, after he posted about Adobe's open-sourcing of Flex. He didn't think Microsoft would run .NET on a Mac because it doesn't sell OS licenses. But then I reminded him that the Developer Division is not about selling OS licenses, it's about building platforms that people use to build stuff on, and leveraging an ecosystem of first- and third-party tools to generate revenue for itself and its partners. Just because you choose not to use Microsoft's OS doesn't mean you have to lock yourself out of platforms (virtualization being the exception).
I can't wait to see the innovation that comes from these new components for Microsoft's vision of the web. I don't think these announcements will stop the zealotry entirely, but maybe interoperability will help jump-start the process. And
I leave you with a quote from Ray Ozzie, newly free from his self imposed Cone of Silence, from today's Q&A with Mike Arrington:
On the question of competing with Google, Ozzie responded: "The DNA of Microsoft is not going into a space unless we can change the game and win in some form. More interesting from a competitive standpoint related to Google and large incumbent competitors in general is how Microsoft approaches it and secondary and tertiary effects."
He alluded to moments in Microsoft's history when the company was spurred into action by competitive forces, citing open source and Java as leading to cultural changes and reshaping Microsoft, a side or secondary effect of the competitive battles. "If you go back to Sony years ago, the Playstation 2 look unassailable. A side effect, secondary effect was the creation of an entire entertainment and devices division in Microsoft," Ozzie said.
Ozzie went on to say, "From a Google perspective, the secondary impacts have already begun to happen," resulting in the ad model Microsoft had never considered before. "With services, we decided to make an investment and scale the back end for search and ads, now we are thinking about how to 'platformize' it, so we developers can better take advantage of it."