The evidence this time has caused Microsoft to withdraw the patent over the last few days. The BlueJ Java people, who already credited Smalltalk, had been in recent contact with Microsoft prior to the application and were very upset about the patent application. Bad press was visibly having a negative affect.
Would that it were this way with the less direct instances of prior art. No kudos to Microsoft here -- this is a case of one's back to the wall and the spotlight shining down from the police helicopter -- you're about to be on a reality show.
James Robertson writes about another Microsoft patent application in the 21st century that consists of prior art from the 1990s if not earlier.
Here are some other candidates for prior art from what I can tell. (I can only read so much about Visual Studio and then I begin to lose my lunch.)
- The Smalltalk "diagramming debugger" is from the 1980s. Ironically the author, Ward Cunningham, worked for Microsoft for a few years.
- The Smalltalk "Object Explorer" is currently included as a goodie with VisualWorks Smalltalk I think. This is by Kent Beck and goes back to the same time frame when Ward and Kent were at Tektronix.