Tony Williams: Co-inventor of COM
15 August 2006
Today I discovered a Microsoft Channel 9 interview with Tony Williams one of Microsoft’s great thinkers that rarely seeks the limelight. He is billed as the co-inventor of COM but has been working on new and productive ways of building software from genuinely re-usable components in what is now known as the Component Application Framework.
Watching this interview brought on a touch of nostalgia as I had the privilege to spend a couple of months resident with Tony’s Component Applications group in Microsoft Research back in 1999. Tony is a fellow Brit and talks about his days at Oxford in high energy physics and then at the Rutherford Appleton Lab; both institutions crossed my own path at about the same time.
In the video Tony talks about the lack of suitable component composition tools. I recall talking with the engineers and architects on Tony’s team in Building 31 on the Microsoft Campus who had taken the soon-to-be acquired Visio application to extend into a visual software component construction kit by writing VBA macros! For me that few months at Redmond based in Microsoft Research mingling with some of the greats of the software industry was probably the highlight of my academic career.