So this week Microsoft announced that they are open sourcing .Net Core. What does this mean? Well technically Microsoft has been open sourcing parts of .Net for quite a while. ASP.Net MVC for instance as well as Entity Framework have been open source for a while. So what is revolutionary about this? My opinion is the most important item is the fact that Microsoft is in a major shift in their approach.
Visual Studio Community
Microsoft announced and released Visual Studio Community Edition today. This edition unlike Visual Studio Express actually is extensible. This will allow startups to have professional grade editing, code analysis, and debugging. Individual developers can use community edition to create their own free and paid applications. The main restriction is that enterprise organizations (greater than 5 users) cannot use community edition except for open source contributors, academic research, and classroom settings.
Mobile first, Cloud first
Satya Nadella made the statement that Microsoft is a “Mobile first, Cloud first” company. On the mobile front Microsoft showed that they are committed to mobile and not just Windows Phone by partnering with Xamarin. Microsoft has been making major improvements to their cloud offering as well. This has included adding support for operating systems other than Windows. The fact that Microsoft has also partnered with Docker shows a new stance in how Microsoft will be working with Open Source as well.
Over a year ago Microsoft and Xamarin started a partnership. For those not familiar Xamarin took over ownership for mono which is the open source implementation of the .Net CLR. Mono allowed you to run .Net on Linux and OSX. Xamarin expanded into mobile rather quickly years ago. Xamarin mobile platform allows you to create native Android and iOS applications today using C#. This allows for you to share resources between an iOS and Android application, but still allows you full access to the native features.
The announcement this week strengthens the partnership. Xamarin templates will be available in Visual Studio 2015. Visual Studio Community addition will allow for users to use extensions including Xamarin Starter Edition. This should allow startups to get something off the ground with minimal costs.
With Microsoft open sourcing core it will allow Xamarin and others to expand the platform. Mono was created from the ECMA spec since the source for .Net was not available in the past. Today things are about to change. Give it a year and we should see major moves around this.
My Personal thoughts on Microsoft
I am actually beginning to get more bullish on Microsoft. They fell far behind in my eyes for a while but are now making some bold moves which may and should attract more developers. By open sourcing the core framework we should see advancements from the community that take .Net to new levels. It will be interesting to see what the open source community does going forward.
Microsoft’s goal in my eyes is to expand their cloud platform. To do this they had no choice but to embrace the other platforms. This is by far not the proprietary Microsoft of the past. I really can’t wait to see how this pushes other companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon.