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Implications for Tool Vendors

Tool vendors are going to face a very tough challenge in the years to come. Part of their problem is that as computers get faster there is a shift toward fewer, higher-level languages. In addition, language standardization has meant that it's harder to compete on features, since developers want languages that are portable across a wide range of hardware. As such, the tool vendors are now having to compete based on standards conformance, performance, and robustness.

In addition, tool vendors face major challenges from Open Source software. As developers become more expert, they're less intimidated by the learning curve associated with Open Source software. This means that vendors will have to be innovative and provide exemplary service in order to convince developers that they should buy the vendors' tools. After all, as developers are asked to create long-lived, stable applications, they need tools that will be supported for the life of the application. Right now this is manifestly not happening. Some developers are currently faced with the problem of supporting and enhancing applications that were written in programming languages that are no longer supported. Similarly, some applications are running on operating systems that are no longer supported, or compilers that are no longer available. With that experience, it's no wonder that some developers are starting to favor the Open Source model, where they know that they have everything they need to continue to support their application (at least until the hardware vendor stops making the chipsets).

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