Microsoft-Yahoo deal: What about developers?

Analysts and developers weigh in on what the Yahoo-Microsoft deal could mean for programmers.

"I don't think Microsoft has ever bought -- and maintained -- a significant software product that wasn't written against Microsoft technology," he wrote on his blog. "So there's a paradox: Technically, I can't see how Microsoft would migrate all of Yahoo to Windows servers and software. But culturally, it just isn't in Microsoft's DNA to accept and maintain all of these PHP/FreeBSD/Linux products."

Robert McLaws, a .NET developer and blogger at windows-now.com, questioned the overall wisdom of the acquisition attempt, given this inconsistency. "If one of the points in buying them is their infrastructure, but their infrastructure isn't Windows, what are they buying?" he said in an interview on Monday.

Yet there's no doubt that Microsoft would move to merge its tools and assets with Yahoo's, according to Greg DeMichillie, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft and a contributor to the initial design of the .NET Framework. "Anything Microsoft does, they think about it from a platform perspective," he said.

The final shape of that platform is far from clear, as there are substantial redundancies between the companies' services offerings. (Purely on the development front, Yahoo and Microsoft are competing within the mashup market, with their Pipes and Popfly toolsets, respectively.)

For developers already wedded to the Microsoft platform, the major pitfall is the "corporate indigestion" that could follow a deal, according to DeMichillie.

"The biggest risk to developers is that it defocuses executives from the important job of getting a Vista successor out," he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson said Monday that the company would not comment beyond materials on its Web site announcing the proposed deal.

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Chris Kanaracus

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