Almost after a decade of introducing the .NET platform to the world, Microsoft declares it open-source last week​

​​In 2002, when Microsoft first introduced the .NET platform, no one had imagined that it would become one of the most preferable development environments within a decade. With over 1.8 billion installations and 6 million developers worldwide, it retained the top spot in the technology world. And it got another life last week when Microsoft announced that it would open-source the entire server-side .NET stack under the MIT open-source license. The announcement was made by Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division, Soma Somasegar at company’s invitation-only Connect() event for developers in New York. He announced a new governance model through .NET Foundation, which is an independent forum to foster open development and collaboration around the growing collection of open source technologies for .NET. Everything from the ASP.NET Web tools, the languages, and even the underlying .NET runtime will be made available via .NET Foundation. The initial release will be a selection of libraries, with the rest of the stack releasing over the next few months. The company also announced the expansion of .NET to run on the Linux and Mac OS platforms and launched a new open source version of its flagship IDE, dubbed Visual Studio Community. Somasegar also gave a preview of Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 2015.

.NET has been a completely proprietary technology for more than a decade. It was the prime competitor to the open source frameworks especially Java, with the constraint that it ran only on Windows platform. The frameworks and tools, though developer friendly, always come with the burden of licensing cost and the paid choice was a necessity to increase productivity.

Gr​adually,over the last decade, Linux and Mac OS have become a part of enterprise computing environments and the era when just about everything ran on Windows is bygone.Today’s generation of developers has been moving towards open source with Java leadning the pack with around 9 million strong​ developer community. The big challenge before Microsoft was how to take .NET platform forward and how to make an already successful product reach masses. And hence this step was the need of the hour and was warmly received across the IT community. This step will provide great new opportunities and flexibility for .NET developers. A cross-platform version of .NET means more choices for developers. .NET developers can build more applications to run on multiple platforms. They can unlock the potential of one of the world’s best app-execution environments- .NET, by merging it with one of the world’s best server operating systems-Linux. It also means more and more competition between runtime environments and coding languages, leading to improvements.

Microsoft has also released Visual Studio 2013 community edition as freeware non-enterprise Visual Studio. Visual Studio Community 2013 will support full Visual Studio extensibility, offering access to the ecosystem of over 5000 extensions. Visual Studio 2013 Community edition also includes dozens of great Visual Studio tools including Peek, Blend, Code Analysis, Graphical Debugging and full C# refactoring. All the features that were previously available with paid version are now available for free in Community edition with a support for web, desktop, mobile, cloud. Only restriction will come when anyone wants to use it at an enterprise level. The road map is still unknown but, everything from core .NET framework library to underlying .NET run time will be open source.

As part of focusing on cross platform mobile development including iOS, Android and Windows, Microsoft is also working closely with Xamarin for producing cross platform open-source .NET framework “MONO COMMUNITY”. It should take shape in upcoming months. Xamarin, which is already into the cross platform mobile development, enables the developers to create native applications in C# within Visual Studio that can work on Android, iOS and Windows. Microsoft is also increasing integration between Xamarin and Visual Studio for providing a streamlined experience.

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