Two key names missing here are Sun and Microsoft. There is some debate over whether part of IBM’s original idea behind Eclipse was to reduce Sun’s influence within the wider Java community – the provocative name certainly suggests this. Eclipse has moved on, though, and while it is true that Sun finds its open source NetBeans platform increasingly sidelined by the growing power of Eclipse, that is probably only a by-product of the latter’s success rather than a goal.
The case of Microsoft is quite different. It is clear that most of the companies behind Eclipse see it as an opportunity to hit Microsoft where it hurts: in the development community.
Eclipse is a plausible threat to Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Its strength is not just that it offers developers all of the features they have come to expect from a modern IDE but that it can offer things that Microsoft cannot, including availability on multiple hardware and software platforms, an open architecture that lets users select or even write exactly the tool they need, and a level playing field that encourages creative competition among software companies.
Glyn Moody welcomes your comments.