So it turns out that Microsoft has been quietly working on an AJAX toolset. Soon to be not so quietly, it seems, since they’re featuring it at their MIX06 conference in Vegas in March. On the one hand, this is exciting, because it means Microsoft has once again recognized the obvious and embraced a technology they didn’t invent. On the other hand this sucks because Microsoft has once again embraced a technology they didn’t invent.
What I mean is, we’ve seen this before, many times. It’s the exact kind of hurry up and reengineering that brought us IE, VBScript and C#… and Windows for that matter. My concern is that just when things are getting interesting, just when the Wild AJAX West is really starting to open up, Microsoft comes in and “standardizes.” And that just sucks the fun right out of it. Personally I was a lot happier when AJAX was something a bunch of annoying bloggers “invented” simultaneously. Back then you could hack together some cool shit and people would be blown away. When AJAX first came on the scene, it literally did things that were impossible. By definition, when a lot of impossible shit is getting done, that’s a good day. I even invented my own variant at one point: serverless AJAX running from a CD-ROM! (I meant to write an article about that, but never quite got around to it. Sorry!)
Of course the smoke was in the air as soon as Google did AJAX. Because nothing lights a fire under Microsoft like Google doing something. But man, I can’t shake the feeling that the absolute last people you want doing complex, cross-platform browser hacking are the people at Microsoft. I mean look at Hotmail! Ugh.