Back in 1998, IBM identified Microsoft as the number-one emerging threat in its ownership of the corporate application development market. Microsoft was fast becoming the dominant provider in development tools, which would ultimately lead companies away from an IBM-centric environment to one that was Microsoft-centric.
To stay competitive, IBM thought it needed to bring developers to Java-based middleware, says Lee Nackman, CTO and vice president of Design, Construction, and Test Tools at IBM's Rational Software division. Work began in 1999 on an IDE for just that purpose, culminating in the formation of the Eclipse Foundation and the subsequent release of the Eclipse project into the public domain in 2001.
Since then, the Eclipse project has become something of a who's who in Microsoft opponents, including HP, IBM, SAP, Novell, and Oracle, and smaller developers such as Genuitec.