I'ts been fascinating to watch Microsoft try to follow the very path that Rational forged a lifetime ago, namely, the creation of a suite of tools that support the software development lifecycle, not just the activities of coding. The latest brick in this well-worn path that Microsoft is walking is their vigorous pursuit of patents, something which will require a bit of catchup since IBM has led the world in patents for the past 11 years (and shows no signs of letting up).
What strikes me the most about this latest move from Redmond is that it represents a subtle yet significant recognition of the critical importance of improving the activity of software development by teams - not just individuals - and the protection of essential software intellecual property as a means of driving innovation and economization. I'd recently been interviewed by Jack Vaughn of Application Development Trends and he rightly observed that the futures pitch I gave at the Rational Software Development User Conference was optimistic (and he suggested that was a welcome sign given the current state of our industry). I'd observed in my keynote that what sent chills down my spine in looking at the future not of our industry but of our world was that every advance required software that had not yet been written.
In short, there's still a lot of exciting stuff we'll get to do in the coming years.