Eclipse Foundation executive director Mike Milinkovich has criticised Microsoft for not approaching Eclipse about interoperability between .Net and open source Eclipse technologies.

Speaking at the EclipseCon conference yesterday, Milinkovich also shined a spotlight on OSGi (Open Services Gateway initiative), which provides the basis of Eclipse's core plug-in model for software development.

Commenting on Microsoft, Milinkovich said Microsoft sends representatives to EclipseCon every year, where Eclipse and Microsoft officials then agree that a meeting ought to be set up between the two sides. But afterwards, "they never call," Milinkovich said.

"Ask your friends at Microsoft what they're doing to interoperate with Eclipse," said Milinkovich.

Milinkovich said he expected Microsoft to someday join Eclipse and that there are enough points of interaction between these two development "universes" that interoperability is the right thing to do.

Currently, there are a few point products for interoperability, such as Teamprise providing a plug-in enabling Eclipse developers to access Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server for application lifecycle management, Milinkovich said. (Teamprise announced on Tuesday that it has joined the Eclipse Foundation.)

But users would benefit from co-operation between the two camps to provide interoperability, Milinkovich said. A company with, for example, developers building in .Net and on the Eclipse Rich Client Platform might want to see resulting applications be easily interoperable, he said.

Microsoft, contacted for its response to Milinkovich's plea, declined to comment. But an industry analyst questioned whether Microsoft really needs to do anything about interoperating with Eclipse.

"I think there's a lot of people that make a very good living bridging the two [platforms] and SOA makes that less of an issue," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions. With SOA, the use of mashups and services boosts interoperability, according to Gardner.

Eclipse technologies based on OSGi could become the open source alternative to .Net for software development, Milinkovich said.

Eclipse began basing its technology on the OSGi component standard with Eclipse 3.0 in 2004. "OSGi I believe is going to be one of those overnight successes that endures eight years or nine years in the making," Milinkovich said.

"It's a component model for Java and this is something that Java actually has been lacking since its inception," Milinkovich said. The OSGi community is participating in Java Specification Request 291, which would have OSGi become part of the Java component model, Milinkovich said.

"One of the great things about [OSGi] is it's supported by a number of vendors and open source communities. Eclipse is not the only implementation of OSGi," Milinkovich said.

The universal component model provided by OSGi is being used in embedded devices, rich clients, and server applications, with support from organisations such as NASA, technology vendors such as IBM and Oracle, and open source communities such as Apache and Spring, Eclipse said.

The OSGi Developer Conference is happening concurrently with EclipseCon this week.

Milinkovich also noted a new project proposal called Maya, which is being led by Cisco and is intended to make it easier to deploy Eclipse and Eclipse Rich Client Platform software within large enterprises. Another goal of Maya is making the deployment and update process transparent to end users.

Milinkovich also said Eclipse plans its simultaneous release of multiple projects, called Europa, in June. Europa will feature the Eclipse 3.3 platform and 22 projects, including the latest versions of technologies such as the Data Tools Platform, Web Tools Platform and Business Intelligence, and Reporting Tools projects.

Last June, Eclipse did its Callisto release as the predecessor to Europa, but that only had 10 projects.