Stephen E. Arnold: Microsoft Embraces Open Source – Watch for Flying Pigs

Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Watch for Flying Pigs as Microsoft Embraces Open Source

Microsoft is getting its open source on. Ars Technica reports, “Microsoft Open Sources a Big Chunk of .NET.” It seems the tech giant is softening its stance on open source resources; perhaps they now see they have little choice if the company wants to remain relevant. Writer Peter Bright reports:

“At its Build developer conference today [April 3, 2014], Microsoft announced that it was open sourcing a wide array of its .NET libraries and related technologies and creating a group, the .NET Foundation, to oversee the development and stewardship of the open source components.

“Perhaps the highlight of the announcement today was that the company will be releasing its Roslyn compiler stack as open source under the Apache 2.0 license. Roslyn includes a C# and Visual Basic.NET compiler, offering what Microsoft calls a ‘compiler as a service.’”

Included in the .NET Foundation are reps from Microsoft (of course), GitHub, and Xamarin. Xamarin and Microsoft have been collaborating for some time, and the former is contributing some if its own libraries to the Foundation. If Xamarin’s experience is any example, Microsoft really is making it easier to collaborate with them. Bright writes:

“We talked to Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza about working with Microsoft and the decision to make these components open source. For a long time, he said that while the engineers at the two companies had a good relationship, the decisions that Microsoft made—such as not allowing certain pieces of code to be used on non-Windows platforms—made things difficult for Xamarin.

“However, that changed late last year…. Last November, the companies announced that they were partnering to in order to make it easier to use Xamarin’s tools to write code that works on both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms.”

Ah, cooperation! The article specifies that Microsoft has removed troublesome license restrictions, solicited design feedback from Xamarin, published docs under a Creative Commons license, and furnished Xamarin with its internal .NET test suite. Is this a sign of things to come? Stay tuned to see whether Microsoft continues to play well with others.

Cynthia Murrell, April 29, 2014

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