Microsoft Open Sources .NET, Saying It Will Run On Linux and Mac | WIRED

Satya Nadella’s rapid reinvention of Microsoft continues.

In yet another bid to make up lost ground in the long march to the future of computing, Microsoft is now open sourcing the very foundation of .NET—the software that millions of developers use to build and operate websites and other large online applications—and it says this free code will eventually run not only on computer servers that use its own Windows operating system, but also atop machines equipped with Linux or Apple’s Mac OS, Microsoft’s two main operating system rivals.

“We want to have a developer offering that is relevant and attractive and valuable to any developer working on any kind of application,” says S. “Soma” Somasegar, the 25-year Microsoft veteran oversees the company’s wide range of tools for software developers.

With the move, Microsoft is embracing the reality that modern software and online services run atop a variety of operating systems—and that Windows no longer dominates the market the way it once did. At least tacitly, the software giant is acknowledging that so many businesses and developers now choose to run their software atop computer servers loaded with the open source Linux operating system, which, in recent years, has evolved in ways that Windows has not. Most notably, it offers what’s called containers, a new means of streamlining the way applications are built and operated.

“Today, people who are stuck on the .NET platform have to use a server environment that doesn’t have what Linux does,” says James Watters, who, at a company called Pivotal, works hand-and-hand with a wide range of developers and companies as they build large online software applications. “They’re stuck with a generation-behind technology.”

For Watters, Microsoft has ample ground to make up. But in opening sourcing what’s called the .NET Core runtime—freely sharing it with the world at large—the company at least gives itself a fighting chance as it seeks to maintain a hold on the way the world builds and runs software.

In theory, an open source .NET that runs on Linux and Mac OS will expand the use of Microsoft’s developer tools. Then the company can pull in revenue through other channels—through premium versions of its developer tools and through its cloud computing service, Microsoft Azure, a means of building and running software without setting up your own servers.

The move is just the latest in a long line of rather large changes Microsoft has made since Nadella took over as CEO in January—all with an eye towards the rise of rival operating systems and open source software. The company now offers free versions of its Office applications for Apple iPhones and iPads. It provides a free version of Windows for phones and other small devices, hoping to catch up with Google’s open source Android operating system. And it says that the next version of Windows for computer servers will run Docker, a hugely important container technology that was originally built on Linux.

All this seemed unlikely under previous CEO Steve Ballmer—and all can help Microsoft find new relevance in the ever-changing world of online computing.

Chasing Java

Among developers and businesses building websites and other large online services, .NET is one of the primary competitors to Java. It’s widely used among companies that rely heavily on Microsoft software —the company says .NET was installed more than 1.8 billion times over the last year—but according to most estimates, Java is still the more popular tool. And many consider it the more powerful.

According to Watters, about 60 percent of Pivotal’s customers built their apps atop Java, about 40 percent on .NET. “Java is the go-to, and .NET is the legacy,” he says.

via Microsoft Open Sources .NET, Saying It Will Run On Linux and Mac | WIRED.


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