November 13, 2014 weblog
Microsoft is making .NET Core open source, cross-platform
Most of you are old enough to remember when you would never use the word Linux in the same sentence as Microsoft without a middle word such as versus. How times have changed. Microsoft's announcement on Wednesday indicates a corporation smart and agile enough to adjust its views. Microsoft, talking about its developer tools and services, said it was open-sourcing the full server-side .NET stack and expanding .NET to run on Linux and Mac OS platforms. The move is said to be an effort to broaden Microsoft's reach beyond Windows developers, making .Net a cross-platform framework. "With billions of devices in the market today, developers need tools that target many different form factors and platforms," said S. Somasegar, the company corporate vice president, developer division.
In his blog, Somasegar elaborated on what is being released: "Today, we are beginning the work to make the entire .NET Core server stack open source. Several key components, like ASP.NET and the C# compiler have been open sourced previously, and today, we are releasing several additional components or the Core .NET framework. Over the next several months, we will be open sourcing the remainder of the .NET Core Runtime and .NET Core Framework. These projects will be released under the MIT open source license and we are also issuing an explicit patent promise to clarify users patent rights to .NET."
Joab Jackson, IDG News Service correspondent, said that the Microsoft .Net framework provides components such as database connectivity, and provides a way to compose applications using multiple programming languages. Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day referred to the .Net framework as one of Microsoft's crown jewels.
Nonetheless, how do you keep developers happy on the Windows farm after they have become aware of what is going on in open source? Through the years, pointed out Gigaom, stuff happened: open-source technologies picked up steam in the marketplace, Google released Android and GitHub opened repositories for open-source code. Microsoft "recognized that the people who are writing the software that is powering the Internet don't want to work on a closed, proprietary platform," said John Sullivan, an executive director of the Free Software Foundation, quoted in the Seattle Times article.
Is the move actually significant? IDG's Jackson exchanged emails with a Forrester analyst who said, yes, it was a big deal. Jeffrey Hammond said, "This is a pretty big shift away from everything depending on Windows." Nobody can be faulted for marking the announcement as a symbol of new leadership, where a decision toward open sourcing the entire .NET framework means a legacy-based technology company accepting that the open-source model of software development is impossible to ignore.
Wrote Jonathan Vanian in Gigaom: "Even though Microsoft has open-sourced bits and pieces of .NET over the years and created the .Net Foundation in April, whose purpose is to oversee open-source .NET initiatives, today's news highlights the realization by Microsoft that it needs to make a full-court press." IDG's Jackson similarly said, the company has been open-sourcing parts of the .Net stack for some time, he added, but "The newest batch of .Net code to be exposed to the public is the largest, and most vital, portion yet, including the ASP.Net, the common language runtime and base class libraries." The new .NET Core stack will be entirely open sourced on GitHub. Somasegar said in his blog that "Developers can begin engaging with the breadth of .NET open source projects today at github.com/Microsoft/dotnet," which is the official home of .NET on GitHub. It's a starting point to find .NET OSS projects from Microsoft, including those part of the .NET Foundation.
The company is also releasing a free version of its Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) for startups and individual developers, called Visual Studio Community.
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