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A Snowball's Chance In Hell : IronRuby

07 Aug 2010

Oh no, Microsoft killed IronRuby. How could they....I feel so betrayed....Microsoft is evil...Microsoft sucks...

Actually...not really. Microsoft did the right thing and it should have done it a very long time ago (like when someone first came up with the idea). While it might have been cool and useful if Microsoft had made IronRuby a first class citizen, the truth is that its as dumb a business move as they come.

Microsoft makes the bulk of its money from selling Windows and Office. In the scale of those two juggernauts, other Microsoft products (and thus divisions) are insignificant. Jeopardizing Windows, even slightly, for nothing was a mistake.

Ruby almost exclusively runs on Linux (for the server) and Mac (for the desktop) - both of which are major competitors to Windows. Both of which, with respect to Ruby, are better than Windows. It would be beyond stupid for Microsoft to open the door, ever so slightly, and allow its developers to get a glimpse at this better world.

Ruby is a very different language than what most Microsoft developers are accustomed to. This serves as a barrier to entry helping to ensure that Microsoft's developers (its last (yet poorly treated) asset in the platform and development wars) are tied to its platform. IronRuby wasn't just the keys to the castle (ok, probably a small room in the castle), it was the map and the advertising campaign.

Some say IronRuby existed to prevent alpha-dog C# developers from leaving their platform. The truth is that by killing IronRuby, Microsoft will lose less developers than the number of Kin's sold. In fact, I'm ready to bet that the number will be closer to 0 than 10. Those of us with a foot out the door weren't looking to IronRuby as some type of savior (the shortcomings start at the language, but continue all the way up and down the stack). However, by educating its developers on IronRuby, they did run a real risk of eventually losing some to Ruby.

I'm not being coy. I really think IronRuby was a bad business move and that they finally did the right thing. I do believe that they need a truly powerful dynamic language, but I think the right business move is to build their own (as much as I wish that wasn't the case). It was naive of anyone to think otherwise. And I'm not even going to speculate what Microsoft was thinking for all those years - either they were being really dumb, or really deceitful (it really doesn't matter anymore).

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