Recently I heard several people emitting strong comments against ActiveState,
the company who first published a Perl distribution for Windows. The tone of those comments was about the same as people crusading against Microsoft.
I feel this is not fair.
True enough, Windows users now have an alternative solution with Strawberry Perl, which is more similar to Perl environments on Unix boxes. Strawberry Perl is progressing very well, which is rejoicing, and is likely to have a positive impact on the number of Perl installations in Windows world. Personally I haven't switched to Strawberry yet, but it's likely to happen in a near future, especially becausee I'm interested in the combination with Perl::Dist. Together these look like it will be possible to package a customized distribution for our organization, that would install everything we need in a single click ... but I still need a little bit of time to experiment with all that.
However, this is not a reason for despising ActivePerl, which continues to work well, and for quite a number of years has already been able to collaborate with the mingw gcc compiler for installing CPAN modules with C extensions. Personally I owe quite a lot to ActivePerl, which
almost 10 years ago provided me with an initial Perl environment to get some work done on our win32 workstations; without that, our projects at Geneva's law courts would probably never have started.
ActivePerl also did quite a lot to integrate Perl with various Windows components (PerlScript, OLE, etc.). This provides a very interesting environment for Win32 automation and has been tremendously useful for some migration tasks in our organization. Unfortunately, this usage of Perl is not widespread enough; it seems that only few people realized the power of Perl for Win32 administration, probably because many Windows sysadmins are so used to point-and-click that they just don't have the culture of automating common repetitive tasks.
Finally, ActivePerl's presentation of documentation in HTML with tree navigation was a real blessing for getting acquainted with the vast body of Perl and CPAN literature. I liked it so much that it became a major source of inspiration for developing the Pod::POM::Web HTTP documentation server.
As a whole, the Perl community greatly benefited from ActiveState's work, so it seems to me that people disregarding that company are just caught in vrittis (patterns of mind) that let them disregard any company whatsoever.
Thanks, ActiveState, and all the best for your future business plans.