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...