Microsoft & Metrowerks - A Comparison

At LaserMaster, I've been working on the design for a cross-platform application lately. We don't want to write an LCD application, so we've been looking at how to best access the widgets from both the Macintosh and from Windows. Along the way, a few things struck me as interesting.

First I wanted to provide some documentation to the guy who's going to be doing the Windows version of this application. I hopped up to MetroWerks', and within a couple minutes found a link to the PowerPlant White Paper. I aimed him at that, and then asked if Microsoft had such a thing for MFC. He wasn't sure, so I dove into the MS website. An hour later, much confused, I gave up. Asked him what he would use if he wanted to learn MFC, and he handed me a book. He also mentioned that there was the Microsoft Developer Network CDs and pointed to a binder that looked like a day-planner. Inside it are something like fifty CDs. Eek.

This all started me thinking about the difference in philosophy between the two companies. Microsoft's pretty obviously top-dog in their part of the world. They've crushed nearly all competition in the development tools business, and while nothing's been proven, it's rumored that vendors who do try and compete sometimes find crucial (to them) APIs changing beneath their feet. If you want to develop for Windows, you go to Microsoft, or you develop in a "fringe" development environment.

On the other hand, Metrowerks, even though they're the current top-dog in the Mac market, still have some decent competition. Symantec is still making a token effort at providing Macintosh development tools, and there's always MPW. Metrowerks still needs to be nice to people. And they do. When they changed the interface in the CodeWarrior IDE with CW10, I was one of many who griped about it. (I still don't especially like it, but I'm getting used to it.) I got a response from "Greg Galanos" about my complaint, though. MWRon is active in the comp.sys.mac.programmer.help newsgroups, and in general, MetroWerks is a very responsive company (and with the way Apple's thrashing around lately, responsive seems to be a very strong survival skill).

This was originally written in March of 1997.
Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:45.