As Dr. Dobb's editor-in-chief Andrew Binstock put it, the headline almost sounds like it was taken from The Onion. After spending years feeding the Kool Aid to a glassy-eyed proprietarily bought-in band of developer devotees, Microsoft found the open god some years back and has been trying to turn its big ship slightly askew ever since. But even after establishing the Microsoft Open Technologies division and hearing CEO Nadella's arguably somewhat implausible and lackluster "We love Linux" pledges, few might have expected developer division lead Soma Somasegar's blog announcement yesterday.
The full title of the announcement was as follows:
Opening up Visual Studio and .NET to Every Developer, Any Application: .NET Server Core open source and cross platform, Visual Studio Community 2013 and preview of Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 2015
But Microsoft doesn't do things like directly out of charity as such (notwithstanding the admirable work of the Gates Foundation and Microsoft's actual charity division) i.e. this is indeed a move to "extend" software application development done on .NET, but onto all other major platforms specifically, Linux and Mac OS X with snugger alignment to Xamarin for the mobile sector.
So should we now drink the Kool Aid, too?
Somasegar's words are clear; he is committed to "beginning the process" of open-sourcing the full .NET server core stack and introducing a new free and fully-featured edition of Visual Studio. In terms of news items, let's also cover off the fact that Microsoft is releasing previews of the next generation of Visual Studio, .NET and Visual Studio Online.
Getting down to specifics, over the coming months Microsoft will be open sourcing the full server-side .NET core stack, from ASP.NET 5 down to the core runtime and framework. Just to say it once again, the open source .NET will run on Linux and Mac OS X in addition to Windows.
Visual Studio Community 2013 is a new, free and fully featured edition of Visual Studio, available today. A preview of Visual Studio 2015 Preview and .NET 2015 Preview is now also available. Visual Studio 2013 Update 4 is available now for every Visual Studio 2013 user. Just for good measure, Visual Studio Online is also expanding its DevOps portfolio with the new Visual Studio Online Release Management service and Visual Studio Cloud Deployment Projects.
Opening up access to Visual Studio extensibility to a wider audience also creates great new opportunities for extension authors to build new tools and experiences on top of the Visual Studio platform.
Somasegar's always fully plausible and heartfelt explanations of his company's developer proposition are detailed in full in his blog. He sort of can't get enough of saying that this open sourcing of .NET and Visual Studio will bring "extensibility" to a wider audience as it creates new opportunities for extension authors to build new tools on top of the Visual Studio platform.
"For both open source and commercial extension authors, Visual Studio offers a great developer tools platform," he said.
He also detailed the following development, "Desktop development continues to be important for many Visual Studio and .NET developers. As part of .NET 2015 we will deliver .NET 4.6, the next update to the desktop .NET framework. This release will include a few key improvements to the WPF platform, including support for transparent windows and multi-image cursor files. In addition, Visual Studio 2015 Preview adds new tools for WPF development, including a Visual Diagnostics tool, a Timeline tool, and a re-designed Blend designer experience."
Just in case you thought any of this was misdated from April 1, programmers can visit the following URL and see it for real: http://github.com/Microsoft/dotnet
Somasegar ends with, "Today, we had the opportunity to share our vision for the Microsoft developer platform. As part of that vision, we aspire to enable every developer and any application to have access to Visual Studio, .NET, Azure and Visual Studio Online. No matter whether you are a startup, a student, a hobbyist, an open source developer or a commercial developer, and no matter the platform you are targeting or the app you are creating, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Online, .NET and Azure will enable you to build for the breadth of today's mobile, desktop, web and cloud platforms. Namaste!"