When Steve Ballmer recently visited Sydney and lead off with his "developers, developers, developers" cry, the crowd chuckled. Love or hate the guy, you can't deny his passion to woo developers and get them to develop with Microsoft tools and platforms. It's been the foundation of Microsoft's success thus far.
During the speech aimed at Australian developers he was keen to tout Microsoft's new Azure platform for buidling hosted applications. The speech reiterated what was covered at the PDC conference in Los Angeles a few weeks before and shapes a clearer future of what Microsoft's online services strategy will be.
While there's no denying that Microsoft has a strong developer following and mind share in its current technologies and tools it's missing quite a large chunk of interest in the Web development and design space. If one goes to a Web conference or workshop, it’s more often than not attended by Mac and Linux users building on top of open source platforms and using a variety of tools and technologies.
My evidence to suggest Microsoft isn't winning the hearts and minds of Web developers and designers may be anecdotal, but there's no denying the influence of tools and platforms from vendors such as Google, Adobe, Sun, IBM, and others.
What all of these other platforms and tools have in common is that they offer development tools on multiple platforms. If the future is Web-based services and development then why doesn't Microsoft do the same and offer development tools for native Mac and Linux users?
A few Web developers I know use Macs as their web and .NET development environment through emulation tools like Parallels; or they use Mono, which may be handy, but is not always ideal. If Microsoft wants more mind share around platforms like Silverlight, SharePoint, and SQL Server (and if it wants web developers outside their core stock of existing .NET followers) then the time is nigh to offer tools and support to build their vision of the future.
I'm not sure exactly how many people would want to install a full-blown version of Visual Studio on a Mac, but even a few Web-dev tools would go a long way to wooing a few of the Microsoft skeptics and open their eyes to existing platforms and future online platforms like Azure.
What do you think? Would Microsoft benefit by offering developer tools to Mac and Linux users? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.