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.net and cloning

For a few weeks now I've been trying out C# and the new MS development environment, Visual Studio .NET. It is a definite improvement over Visual Studio 6. where the integration was everywhere on the marketing brochures but nowhere on the software.

Apart from new versions of most of the tools the main addition is, clearly C#. (the other notable thing disappearance of Java, which they will include again, apparently, but only for Java 1.1 and only for a limited time to appease lawyers somewhere)

C# is basically a clone of Java with the option of disabling a lot of the features that make Java a safer language. Bill Joy wrote an excellent article back in February this year that analyzed why .NET in general (and C# in particular) are unsafe, or at least potentially less safe than Java. ("Potentially" should be "almost certainly", given the stupidity that characterizes us humans in general).

Now, as I was trying some things on today, I remembered what Bill Gates said about software cloning and I wondered how that idea applies in this case. Cloning implies matching feature by feature and then adding a few more on top (or change another variable, e.g., lower the price) so that people will feel compelled to switch products. In the case, however, the switch to .NET is not competitive (as cloning usually is) but rather defensive, to protect the Windows franchise from the Javas and the Linuxes of this world. When cloning is done by a monopolist, is it cloning? Probably not. What then? And what are the implications of making a clone for the franchise itself (in this case Windows)? Let's keep in mind that the last time they cloned something (a web browser) they almost destroyed the franchise they were trying to protect in the process.
Strange how the rules change when you have 95% of a market.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on July 22 2002 at 11:18 PM

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