Microsoft Oslo modeling platform unravels further; M's future remains vague

Microsoft officials confirmed today what I reported last month: Its Oslo data-modeling platform has been almost completely obliterated.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officials confirmed today what I reported last month: Its Oslo data-modeling platform has been almost completely obliterated.

In August, I noted that Microsoft had discontinued Quadrant,one of its Oslo data-modeling tools. In a blog post on September 22, Microsoft officials confirmed Quadrant and the related Oslo Repository components have both been eliminated.

Oslo is a true shadow of its former self. Microsoft first discussed publicly its plans for “Oslo” — an amorphous multi-product effort that encompased future releases of .Net, Visual Studio, BizTalk and SQL Server. By the fall of 2008, Microsoft had decoupled .Net, Visual Studio, BizTalk and SQL Server from Oslo. When officials said Oslo, they meant Microsoft’s evolving modeling strategy and technologies, specifically the M language, the Quadrant tool and the associated metadata repository.

In the summer of 2009, as part of one of Microsoft’s countless reorgs, the Oslo team was combined with Microsoft’s Data Programability team (which manages Astoria, Entity Data Model (EDM), Entity Framework (EF), XML, ADO.Net and tools/designers). Microsoft officials said the new Oslo plan was to combine the remaining elements with some future version of SQL Server.

On September 22, Microsoft officials reiterated last year's message that partners and customers "prefer a more loosely-coupled approach for model-driven application development based on a common protocol and data model, rather than a single repository." The Open Data Protocol (OData) and the underlying EDM are the data-modeling horses on which the Redmondians are now betting. "We’ve also heard partners and customers want to use their existing tools, specifically Visual Studio and Office, to access application information," officials said today.

One of the champions of Oslo, Doug Purdy, resigned from Microsoft in September, announcing he had taken a job at Facebook.

The one element of Oslo that remains in question is the M data-modeling language. I reported in August that Microsoft was "refocusing" M, but couldn't get company officials to comment.

Today, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Don Box offered the first comment on M in ages, via a blog post on the Microsoft site. Box blogged:

"While we used 'M' to build the 'Oslo' repository and 'Quadrant,' there has been significant interest both inside and outside of Microsoft in using “M” for other applications. We are continuing our investment in this technology and will share our plans for productization once they are concrete."

I did notice a new reference to "M" in a Microsoft Research Download I saw yesterday. The "DMinor" modeling language is based on the M language, according to the research site.

I asked the spokesperson whether DMinor was all that was left of M -- the data-modeling language on which the Softies have been working for at least two years (when it was known as "D"). The spokesperson denied that was the case.

"We are continuing to invest in the core technology but, like many things, interesting innovation spins off other areas to pursue.  Just look at how C-Omega, begat LINQ, which begat Reactive Framework. Many times these things start in either research or product development and jump back and forth," he said.

Editorial standards