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Microsoft's Decision To Open .NET Framework: A Huge Show of Linux Love

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last month said, "Microsoft loves Linux" and pointed to the fact that 20 percent of its Azure cloud is already running the open source popular platform, he apparently was getting ready to put his money where his mouth is.

At its Connect developer conference this week, Microsoft said it will open source its entire .NET Framework core and bring it to both Linux and the Apple Macintosh platform. It is the latest move by Microsoft to open up its proprietary .NET platform. Earlier this year, the company made ASP.NET and the C# compiler open source. This week the company released the .NET Core development stack and in the coming months, Microsoft will make the rest of .NET Core Runtime and .NET Core Framework open source.

Citing more than 1.8 billion .NET installations and over 7 million downloads of Visual Studio 2013 during the past year, Microsoft Developer Division Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar said in a blog post, "we are taking the next big step for the Microsoft developer platform, opening up access to .NET and Visual Studio to an even broader set of developers by beginning the process of open sourcing the full .NET server core stack and introducing a new free and fully-featured edition of Visual Studio." These were all once unthinkable moves.

Just how big a deal is this? Consider the reaction of Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin: "These are huge moves for the company," he said in a blog post. "Microsoft is redefining itself in response to a world driven by open source software and collaborative development and is demonstrating its commitment to the developer in a variety of ways that include today's .NET news."

Zemlin lauded a number of Microsoft's open source overtures including its participation in the OpenDaylight SDN project, the AllSeen Alliance Internet of Things initiative and the Core Infrastructure Initiative.

For IT pros, the move is Microsoft's latest affirmation of the company's embrace of open source and Linux in particular. At the same time, while some believe Microsoft is also doing so to deemphasize Windows, the company's plans to provide Docker containers in Windows Server suggests the company has a dual-pronged strategy for datacenter and applications infrastructure: bolster the Windows platform to bring core new capabilities to its collaboration offerings while ensuring it can tie to open source platforms and applications as well.

At the same time, it appears that Microsoft is seeking to ensure that its development environment and ecosystem remains relevant in the age of modern apps. Zemlin believes Microsoft has, in effect, seen the light. "We do not agree with everything Microsoft does and certainly many open source projects compete directly with Microsoft products," he said. "However, the new Microsoft we are seeing today is certainly a different organization when it comes to open source. Microsoft understands that today's computing markets have changed and companies cannot go it alone the way they once did."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/14/2014 at 11:11 AM


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