Microsoft Build 2014: Microsoft open sources a slew of software with .NET Foundation

By Peter Gothard
04 Apr 2014 View Comments
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Microsoft made a lot of developers very happy at the main keynote this morning at the company's Build 2014 conference in San Francisco by releasing source code - some of it live on the stage - to the community.

A total of 24 open source projects, some developed by Microsoft, others by partners at cross-platform software developer Xamarin, were released to the wild, including Project Roslyn, which has now been renamed the .NET Compiler Platform.

Further reading

As C# lead architect and TypeScript core developer Anders Hejlsberg hit the button to tumultuous applause, there remained only the question of exactly what, and who, the .NET Foundation is.

Microsoft sees the independent group as operating along the lines of groups such as Apache, and at launch it will comprise of members from three different groups.

Drawing from Microsoft's .NET development team and Microsoft Open Technologies, the .NET Foundation will also welcome Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza.

It was perhaps the Roslyn announcement that caused the most waves, and questions were soon asked how the open source shift, and new caretaking of the platform, may affect the traditional existence of C# - Microsoft's .NET take on the language of C++.

Hejlsberg later spoke to the press about the future of C#, and Roslyn, helping to differentiate between the two.

"Rosyln is the name for the project that incorporates the new C#, and the common language that they share," said Hejlsberg, confirming that "6.0 is the name for the next version of that language".

"We are implementing C# 6.0 on the Roslyn platform - we will not keep using the old C# compiler. We're going to retire that codebase, and versions of C# will be built on Roslyn, and will be open source," he said.

Hejlsberg said that Microsoft, and his team within it, will still "see ourselves as stewards of the C# language," even with the .NET Foundation now officially overseeing its future as an open source product.

Hejlsberg assured coders that "the best part of going open source is we still have a lot of guidelines that we can apply to ourselves".

"You've got to be careful not to grab everything left and right, as when you've put something into a language, it's hard to get it out again, and it becoming some strange kitchen sink language that serves no one."

The Roslyn source code resides on Codeplex, and can be picked up right now.

Today's announcement was another step on the road to Microsoft becoming the "cloud first, mobile first" company it claims it wants to be.

From last week's launch of Microsoft Office on iOS to numerous Azure-based keynote demos delivered on iOS devices at Build, to yesterday's announcement that Windows will become free on certain devices, to the company's revelations today that it is happy to open source many examples of its code bases, Microsoft seems to be turning into a truly service-orientated company.

While new CEO Satya Nadella would never admit it, there seems little to shout about in Microsoft's hardware area this year compared to Ballmer's - admittedly feeble - brandishing of an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet at last year's Build.

Meanwhile, while yesterday's keynote included some cheerleading for the Xbox One, it was let slip today that the Xbox division is suffering some layoffs, with at least two staffers tweeting about their bad news.

Whether Nadella truly intends to begin ditching some of Microsoft's hardware burdens remains to be seen, but evidence at Build points to a company that's moving back to being a pure software company.

On top, it seems willing to play nicer than ever before as it enters an IT future that cannot easily monetise jealously-guarded on-premise services.

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