Q&A: Helping Developers Create World-Class Software

Eric Rudder, Senior Vice President Developer and Platform Evangelism

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 23, 2001 — Microsoft last week announced the creation of a new Developer and Platform Evangelism division, which will work with developers, partners, IT professionals and end users to provide the tools, programs, services and content they need, and will demonstrate the compelling business value of the .NET platform, Microsoft’s next-generation software foundation to connect the world of information, devices and people in a more unified and personalized way. The .NET platform gives software developers the tools and technology to quickly and efficiently deliver business solutions that span multiple applications, devices and organizations. To explain the charter for the new division, PressPass spoke with Senior Vice President Eric Rudder, who will lead it.

PressPass: Why did Microsoft create the Developer and Platform Evangelism Division?

Rudder: Developers are the foundation for Microsoft — they are our most critical audience and greatest asset. We created this new division to bring together all the great people, resources and experience from across the company to focus on the tools and services developers need to make great software. At the end of the day, our job is not done unless we have provided great opportunities for others to build world-class software, and helped make them successful in building it. The new division will coordinate the overall programming model for clients, servers and services; create tools for the Microsoft .NET platform, and help ensure that the programming environments for Windows and the .NET Enterprise Server products continue to offer leading-edge business value to developers.

In addition to our focused developer efforts, our division is also about helping Microsoft customers of all kinds — from developers to IT professionals and consumers — be successful with all the software and services that make up the extended Microsoft platform. Our division runs the Microsoft.com corporate Web site on this platform. And we publish a rich variety of how-to and skills content, online and in the form of subscriptions like MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) and TechNet, as well as Microsoft Press books, and courseware and exams. One of most important ways for us to evangelize the Microsoft platform is to ensure that we make great content and online communities easily available to our customers, and that we help them succeed in whatever they are trying to get done.

PressPass: What role will the new division have in shaping the Microsoft .NET platform?

Rudder: A very important role. It’s our job to deliver the necessary tools, the technology infrastructure, and the partner- and developer resources to help bootstrap a thriving community of developers and other technical customers as they build and deploy innovative XML-based web services on the .NET platform. Getting the support of developers and IT professionals, by providing them with exactly the tools and resources they need to be successful, is absolutely critical to the success of Microsoft .NET.

PressPass: How important is .NET?

Rudder: .NET and the new era of XML-based Web services is an incredible opportunity — for consumers, businesses, developers and the entire technology industry — because it represents a paradigm shift that will add incredible value for each.

For developers, Web services and .NET represent a whole new business opportunity in the aftermath of the dot-com fallout. That’s because developers will gain greater speed and flexibility, and will experience faster time-to-market for their new Web-based applications. For consumers and individual users, .NET will provide the ability to access relevant and personalized information when and how they want it.

For companies, .NET and the world of XML Web services offer the opportunity for transforming the way they do business and deliver value to their customers. For example, at the Professional Developers Conference this week, we announced a broad and deep partnership with FYE, the nation’s leading mall-based, music-and-video retailer, who is already incorporating .NET technologies and services such as Passport and .NET Alerts into their consumer offering. This means that an FYE customer will enjoy an enhanced shopping experience both in store and online.

PressPass: Partners have been a critical part of Microsoft’s success. How will the efforts of this new division be different from what Microsoft has done for developer-partners over the years?

Rudder: Microsoft has always had a very healthy relationship with software developers. In fact, Microsoft’s very first products were PC programming languages, so we have deep roots in the developer community. One of the keys to the success of the Windows platform was all the great tools and tremendous support we’ve given to developers so they can be successful writing software for the platform. Tools such as Visual Basic made it incredibly easy for developers to write applications for Windows, and to make the leap from character-based programs to the graphical user interface. As a result, more developers write software for Windows, which makes Windows the most compelling platform for users. Today, we’re making it just as easy for developers to write rich, interconnected Web services as it is to write standalone applications and Web sites. And it’s a huge bet for the company — as a result, our efforts need to be stronger and more focused than ever.

PressPass: What skills do you bring to this new role?

Rudder: Since I came to Microsoft 13 years ago, I’ve worked in a wide variety of groups at many levels throughout the company, from developer tools to networking and operating systems. Most recently, I served as vice president for technical strategy under Bill Gates. I think this experience fits well with the mission of the new division, since we will work closely with nearly every group at Microsoft at all levels, developing the tools and generating the momentum we need to help developers be successful on the Microsoft .NET platform.

PressPass: Under the new division, what changes do you expect to make to Microsoft’s developer resources and software development kits, such as MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) and the Visual Studio .NET SDK?

Rudder: In the short term, I don’t foresee any significant changes. We’re already well on our way to delivering developers the right tools for the job, and this new division will help us stay focused on the goal of constantly listening to our developer community. Recently with Visual Studio .NET, we started offering several different versions of the software to meet the specific needs of architects, enterprise developers and academic audiences — giving them the best possible tools for developing XML Web services right away. As for MSDN, I don’t see any dramatic changes — it’s a premier development resource, and arguably it’s the envy of the industry. That said, taking the pulse of what’s important to the developer community is a key mission of this division. I am personally committed to maintaining an open feedback loop by listening closely to input from all segments of the developer community — so that we can make the right adjustments to our programs to continue to deliver world-class programs and resources that result in a rich and healthy ecosystem of innovation.

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