Friday, November 04, 2005

Visual Studio vs. Eclipse

According to an story, Microsoft is making some outgageous claims about the cost of Eclipse:
Repeating the Microsoft mantra that "free is not really free," [Microsoft's BJ Holtgrewe] showed that while the basic development environment for Eclipse is free versus a basic Visual Studio 2005 license, which costs $8,200, the cost of using Eclipse increases as users tap into load testing and other advanced features.

When he added it up, the cost of using VS 2005 was over $30,000 versus more than $100,000 for Eclipse-based applications.
That's crazy, but Mike Milinkovich of the Eclipse Foundation thinks it is The Highest Compliment. When Microsoft (or any big company) aims it's FUD arsenal at you, you know you've arrived.


Bob said...

That's either a misquote or just muddled facts. First, basic Visual Studio 2005 doesn't cost $8200. If you're a small business you can get tons of Microsoft stuff for a lot less than that. And obviously, base Eclipse doesn't cost anything.

I think the comparison is probably some packaged team version of VS vs. IBM RAD which is based on Eclipse and pretty expensive if you buy the enterprise version.

Dave Delay said...

I don't think it is a misquote, but the story may be a bit overblown. After all, this was one Microsoft spokesmen talking to a VSLive audience. I haven't seen any evidence Microsoft is repeating the claim.

Why would they? Visual Studio and Eclipse are not direct competitors in the usual sense. A .NET developer is not going to wake up one morning and decide to switch from VS to Eclipse. If you are developing for .NET you are probably sticking with VS.

I think the real point of the claim was that .NET is a cheaper and more productive platform than J2EE. That's a purely religious argument so the Microsoft spokesman may have been dressing it up with "facts". It happens all the time.

Bob said...

Agreed. I've done development in both enviroments. Which is more
productive? The answer is... it depends. I feel productive with both sets of tools.

How do the costs compare? I have no idea. I'm sure that the .NET and J2EE camps can compare list prices for a specific set of products and claim that they're cheaper.

Eclipse is free, right? Yes, basic Eclipse *is* free but IBM RAD, which is based on Eclipse, is priced in the same ballpark as Microsoft tools. I'm sure that the comparison in this case was at that level.

Certainly you go completely open source with Java tools and servers. But that's not going to make J2EE vendors be happy.

Making the comparison even harder is that Microsoft and other vendors offer incentives to use their tools and heavily discount them depending on what you buy. And besides, the major expense is the developers themselves. Not the tools.

Can you use less experienced (aka cheaper) developers for either environment? Yes but I'd give the advantage to .NET over J2EE in this case. The learning curve with Microsoft technologies is shorter. That said, there are other choies such as PHP that have a shorter learner curve than J2EE as well.

The general level of FUD in the software industry is apalling. It's easy to point to Microsoft but J2EE vendors are guilty as well.

Eclipse may be an open source project but most of the developers are IBM employees. So IBM is funding Eclipse. And IBM benefits directly from Eclipse work for its own commercial products such as RAD and Workplace. That work also benefits other commercial members of the Eclipse community but its mutually beneficial to all of them in competition with Microsoft.

For individual developers the "free" aspect of Eclipse is more important than the open source aspect. But its very hard to make money from individual developers anyway. Tools don't generate huge revenue.

Few people know enough about competing technologies to make reasonable comparisons. Everyone has a bias. And even knowing the technologies, a proper comparison is going to depend on your specific needs.

Anonymous said...

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