Microsoft to businesses: No standalone concurrent programming toolkit for you

Microsoft to businesses: No standalone concurrent programming toolkit for you

Summary: Microsoft announced last week a new version of its Robotics Developer Studio (RDS) suite. Company officials emphasized the fact Microsoft is making the R3 version of RDS available freely to all -- even though the majority of users already were able to get RDS for free. But the Softies downplayed the future of the CCR and DSS toolkit -- the part of suite that has been of interest to a number of business users.

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Microsoft announced last week a new version of its Robotics Developer Studio (RDS) suite. Company officials emphasized the fact Microsoft is making the R3 version of RDS available freely to all -- even though the majority of users already were able to get RDS for free. But the Softies downplayed the future of the CCR and DSS toolkit -- the part of suite that has been of interest to a number of business users.

Just a couple of years ago, Microsoft had big plans for the concurrency and coordination (CCR) and decentralized software services (DSS). The plan was to make CCR part of Visual Studio and possibly even part of the Common Language Runtime (CLR). Microsoft's mobile and embedded teams also were planning to integrate CCR/DSS into their own developer tool suites, officials said at the time.

When Microsoft delivered RDS 2008, the company made the CCR/DSS toolkit available as a standalone product -- a request of a number of business users who wanted access to the concurrent technology but weren't interested in the robotics tools. (MySpace was one of those customers.)

Last week, however, the Softies announced they had decided to fold CCR/DSS back into the robotics tool suite with the R3 release and to cease providing it as a standalone product. Microsoft also is no longer supporting Windows Embedded Compact/Compact Framework with the RDS 2008 R3.

Microsoft is continuing its push to deliver new parallel/concurrent/distributed technologies and to provide tooling for developers writing these kinds of applications. But it sounds as though CCR/DSS is not going to be a key piece of Microsoft's line-up, going forward. Instead, the Parallel Extensions to the .Net Framework (and its concurrency runtime) seems to be Microsoft's developer solution of choice.

Robotics has been a key interest of and emphasis for Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. Since Gates relinquished his day-to-day role at the company, Microsoft seems to be doing a lot less public outreach on the robotics front. It doesn't seem like the intention is to eliminate the Microsoft robotics team (given Microsoft is recruiting for a handful of robotics-related openings at the moment). Given last year's departure of Robotics chief Tandy Trower, I'm wondering about Microsoft's future intentions and directions in the robotics space...

Topics: Microsoft, Emerging Tech

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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2 comments
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  • Focus on vertical markets

    I think MS could have greater success with its robotics development software, by focusing on a couple of key vertical markets like the military, law enforcement, and private security. I think MS should e.g. convince the military to focus much of its resources, on low level machine intelligence (e.g. locomotion over difficult terrain), and projecting its presence ever more using a myriad of remote controlled robots - instead of focusing a lot on high level AI research. E.g. one neat concept, is to pile in spider moving like devices into a vehicle, and drive the vehicle remotely into hostile urban territory, then remotely direct the spider like devices (using human operators) to perform reconnaissance and offensive operations. (And they say video game playing skills are of no use!)

    Robots could also be used to perform guard duties, search and rescue, checking up on the elderly and disabled in their own homes, etc. I think MS could raise the price of its development package for these verticals, and target them, and try and raise demand for its robotics software in these markets. MS could later eventually figure out how to encourage the use of robots more broadly.
    P. Douglas
  • Wide-spread adoption could be had

    But the framework is not that easy to pick up and learn. A lot of people would love to use a common platform, but they really need to work on a simple demo, start to finish.

    And the need to simplify the code to partner and arbitrate services. I've been trying to learn this for several months, and I guess I'm just thick. But there's not a lot of organized resources for people building bots from scratch.
    crazydanr@...