March 24, 2006

Mac OS X turns 5 and Rotor turns 2

Mac OS X is five years old today. John Siracusa's article about the occasion is a great read. So is Jens Alfke's post, in which you can sense the pride that I and undoubtedly many of the other folks who have worked so hard on the OS feel. I still have my Apple shirt with the Mac OS X logo and "The future is here" on the front, and "March 24, 2001" on the back, and every time I look at it I smile. I'm so glad I was able to be there for the start of the whole thing and that I've been able to contribute my share.

If you'd told me five years ago when I was struggling to get JavaSound to work in time for Mac OS X 10.0, that by this time in 2006 I'd've helped moved the operating system to Intel and would have code in lots of components of the system from the kernel to Mail, I would've thought you were insane. It's been a great five years. I'm not even going to try to guess what I'll have worked on by the time Mac OS X is ten. I'm sure it'll be something I'd never expect today.

In the interim between working on Java (as an intern) and the Intel project, I was at Microsoft working on the Shared Source CLI, also known as Rotor. We shipped a 1.0 release in late 2002 for Windows, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X, and then most of the development team moved on. Yesterday, Rotor 2.0 shipped. Sadly, it retains one of the worst features of the 1.0 release and drops the bits that made it interesting to me. The one it retains is the license -- you can do whatever you want with it, but you can't use it commercially. That essentially restricts it to academia, which means that it's all but impossible to build any sort of community around the software.

To make matters worse, Rotor 2.0 is only available for Windows. Much of the point of the original version was to show that the core of .NET was portable and to create interest in .NET and related Microsoft technologies among people who wouldn't normally be using Microsoft products. In making the new version only available on Windows Microsoft appears to have given up on that point, at least for now. It's a shame.

It's obviously just a coincidence that Mac OS X's fifth birthday and Rotor 2.0's release were within a day of each other, but it presents a perfect opportunity for me to think about where I've been and what I've done professionally over the past five years. I don't think I could've asked for anything better. Hopefully I'll be able to post here again five years from now about how terrific the next five years have been.