I know I'm late to the party on this article, so please excuse my tardiness.
I'd like to offer my thoughts on how Microsoft and Sun have approached the problem of bringing more "ease of development" to their respective platforms. According to Mr. Grimes's article, Microsoft marketing was behind the introduction of VB.NET. Their motivation was to free the massive numbers of developers they had won with VB from the shackles of a single-threaded non-OO language, while still retaining those massive numbers firmly in the Microsoft development camp. Their approach to do this was marketing driven, and resulted in the creation of a backwards incompatible language, with an implementation of inconsistent quality, that is marketed as being backwards compatible with VB. Sun's motivation for "ease of development" was, "we have a great, powerful, easy to use, language, but damn, look at all those VB developers!" Sun's approach, rather than being marketing driven, was engineering driven. We chose to develop easy to use tools and technologies (like Java Studio Creator and DASL) and add selective, highly considered, features to the core language. I contend that right now Sun's approach has yielded a more successful result in terms of "ease of development", and it's starting to yield a good result in terms also of developer capture as well.