Ex-Microsoft engineer launches tool company

Renowned Microsoft Corp. engineer Charles Simonyi, who was behind the early development of Microsoft Word and other key applications, has left the company in order to start his own.

Simonyi, along with Gregor Kiczales, a computer science professor at the University of British Columbia, Tuesday announced the creation of Intentional Software Corp.

Based in Bellevue, Washington, the new company was launched with the goal of releasing software programming tools based on an engineering concept called intentional programming, which Simonyi focused on while working in the research division at Microsoft, according to a company statement.

Intentional programming is aimed at creating a programming environment that lets developers reuse software components and easily manipulate code during the development process, according to the company. The tools could make use of such elements as models or charts to represent the underlying code of an application.

Intentional Software is not alone in the effort to develop a more simple tool for programming and maintaining software. Rational Software Corp. is a pioneer of tools based on UML, or Unified Modeling Language, a graphics-based software development language. Sun Microsystems Inc. engineer James Gosling has also described similar work under way in Sun's research group through a project known as Jackpot.

Microsoft has signed a licensing agreement with Intentional Software that gives the Redmond, Washington, software maker a "first right of negotiation" for products developed there. In return, Intentional Software is licensing some of Microsoft's intellectual property to aid in its research and development of Microsoft-compatible developer tools.

Bill Gates, Microsoft's chairman and chief software architect, commended Simonyi in a statement noting that his work "has enormous potential to dramatically enhance programming in a number of areas." He also said that he was pleased that Microsoft and Simonyi will continue to have a working relationship.

Simonyi, who was born in Budapest, Hungary, joined Microsoft in 1981 and led the company through development of some key applications. In 1991 he joined Microsoft Research, where he began his work focusing on intentional programming. Prior to joining Microsoft, Simonyi worked at Xerox Corp.'s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where he developed programming tools.

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