Microsoft open sources more of its .Net technologies

Microsoft open sources more of its .Net technologies

Summary: From the truth-is- stranger-than-fiction files, Microsoft -- along with its mobile-dev tool partner Xamarin -- is creating a new foundation to open source more .Net technologies.


In a move few would have ever imagined coming to pass, Microsoft is open sourcing more of its .Net developer framework and programming languages.


Company officials announced the move on April 3 at Microsoft's Build 2014 developer conference. Execs also revealed they are partnering with Xamarin to create a new .Net Foundation, which will be responsible for the newly open-sourced bits.

Microsoft already helped create another foundation for open-sourcing its technologies, the Outercurve Foundation. It's not clear why Microsoft didn't simply use Outercurve as the vehicle for this latest round of open-sourcing. Update: Microsoft Developer Division chief Soma Somasegar said Microsoft decided creating a separate, completely .Net-focused foundation would be the quickest and most impactful way to get open-source process for .Net moving. He also said Microsoft is considering how and if to work with Outercurve on this project, or whether it makes more sense to keep the .Net Foundation separate.

Among the 24 current and future technologies Microsoft will be contributing to the .Net Foundation are ASP.Net, the Entity Framework, a preview of the .Net Compiler Platform (codenamed "Roslyn"), the VB and C# programming languages, the .Net Micro Framework, and .Net Rx. Xamarin, a maker of cross-platform mobile development tools, is contributing its MimeKit and Mailkit libraries, Xamarin Mobile, Xamarin Auth and more.

Here's a slide from Build 2014 listing all the open-sourced .Net Foundation technologies (so far):


Going forward, Microsoft expects to release as open source more of its .Net components and libraries via the new foundation. It also is seeking contributions from commercial vendors and members of the .Net community. Members of the .Net Foundation "community"/include Xamarin's Miguel de Icaza, representatives from Glimpse, Umbraco, IdentityMine, GitHub and a handful of other companies.

Microsoft officials say there are more than 6 million developers using .Net, and that there are 1.8 billion installs of .Net across various devices.

Microsoft has open-sourced a number of its developer tools and technologies in recent years. The company has released under various open source licenses the bulk of ASP.NET, MVC, Web API, Entity Framework, SignalR, VS Web Essentials, the Azure software development kit and more. 

Microsoft also made available today an end-user preview of the .NET Compiler Platform project, previously known as "Roslyn." Roslyn includes the next versions of the C# and VB compilers, as well as a compiler-as-a-service programming interface. And on April 2, Microsoft execs also announced the company is open sourcing WinJS, its Windows library for JavaScript.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft, Software Development, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Had they done this 5 years ago it might have had a chance.

    But using anything from Microsoft leaves you liable for patent suits.
    • I don't normally comment on this site, but...

      I really wish I knew what you are talking about. I've been using (developing with) Microsoft technologies for years and have never even heard of being liable for a patent suit.
      • You never heard of the vfat patent?

        Or the patent extortion Microsoft is doing against Android?

        don't get out much I suppose.
        • ROTFLMAO!

          There is nothing extortionist about it you idiot. Let's establish the facts.

          1. The patented technology is indeed legitimate and has been upheld in a court of law, and Microsoft has tons of products in the market that utilize that patent.

          2. Google blatantly stole the technology when building Android, and didn't even try to contact Microsoft to license the patents, which was the right thing to do.

          3. Android violates that patent, and Android OEMs are forced to pay for that patent because Google hung them out dry. They make money on a product that violates that technology. They pay. Google didn't indemnify them the way Microsoft doesn't WP8 OEMs.

          4. Microsoft is simply protecting it's patented technology.

          5. The moral of the story is Google and it's OEMs wouldn't have to deal with this if Google did the right thing from the beginning, but they didn't give a damn.

          So rather than being ignorant about a subject and spouting fanboy nonsense, educate yourself. Microsoft pays for the use of plenty of patents from other companies. Why can't Google?
          • Pardon me!

            "Microsoft doesn't WP8 OEMs" should be "Microsoft does......."!!
          • re: ROTFLMAO!

            Why is it I hear "Unmarked Helicopters", by Soul Coughing, in my head when anyone tries to defend MicroSoft?? Oh, it was a weather balloon.
          • What patented technology?

            1. What patented technology?

            2. What patented technology?

            3. What patent?

            4. What patents?

            5. Until listed there are no valid patents.

            The extortion is to keep the danegeld below the cost of a lawsuit.

            The only company that has been sued carried out the lawsuit until Microsoft paid them to stop, and unfortunately sign a NDA to not reveal what patents.

            so far, there are NO valid patents known.
          • I believe it isn't

            Some dark secret that fat32 and ActiveSync are among the technology that Google "forgot" to license.

            Only in your dreamworld would companies like Samsung pay hundred and hundred millions of dollars on a yearly basis because paying would be cheaper than litigation.

            It is clear to anyone with half a brain that this isn't a case of extortion. And that is exactly why many Android OEM's are currently licensing the technology directly from Microsoft as Google apparently can't be bothered.
          • Forced to pay?

            Android/Linux OEMs are forced to sign Microsoft patent deals because they don't have the money to fight the hugely expensive court cases.

            Nobody knows how much is actually paid to Microsoft by the OEMs that did sign the patent agreements because those agreements are always under an NDA. It may be that they're paying nominal fees only. It may be that they're paying nothing at all. I don't know, and neither do you.

            The first time that an OEM, Barnes & Noble, stood up to Microsoft's blatant shake-down tactics, the results were quite illuminating. B&N didn't play Microsoft's game at all. They refused to sign the NDA that Microsoft requires you to sign before they'll even tell you which patents you're supposed to have violated. They probably would have succeeded in blowing the whole racket out of the water if it had got anywhere near an actual court. Microsoft couldn't have that, of course, so they dropped the case and paid B&N $300 million for some vague join development efforts; a program that, 3 years later, has produced pretty well nothing of any value. (So essentially, it was hush money.)
          • @BrownieBoy

            Many have tried going to court over the patent over the years, hence the reason it has been upheld in court...

            Most now sign out of court, because there is already case history in MS's favour.
          • At 5 million dollars per patent... NO they don't go to court

            The extortion is a LOT cheaper.
          • I hear NDA

            with Microsoft and immediately it gives Microsoft a bad look. Microsoft and NDA are pure evil
          • logical ?

            mate : how come that is even logical ?
            why should i be compelled under the law to sign an NDA for information i did not request ?
            if you want to offer that info its up to you ,otherwise shut your mouth.
            not logical ?
          • patents ....

            you are right ,software patents are ridiculous .
        • Bone Head - you might want to do

          research before you open your mouth... wow
      • "I really wish I knew what you are talking about."

        So do the rest of us.
        Hallowed are the Ori
      • That would only apply... people who use MS technologies on non-MS approved systems (and Steve Ballmer made it clear years ago as to what the official MS position with regard to Linux is: if you use it without MS' permission, you're infringing on MS' patents). MS is not really in a position to object to the use of .NET on Windows.

        Which brings up an interesting question: What is MS' position as to the legality of open source .NET implementations such as Mono? I don't think any official statement on the subject has ever been made. so I have to assume that MS reserves the right to sue users and developers of such implementations unless they buy generic patent licenses from MS (the identity of the patents that such implementations might infringe is, of course, a confidential trade secret).
        John L. Ries
        • Small elaboration

          ...there is little reason to use unofficial implementations of .NET on the Windows side when the official one is a free download from MS; and no sane jury would rule that MS would be damaged by such implementations.
          John L. Ries
          • You mean like MS Java?

            Microsoft's implementation of Java managed to get them sued.
            Patrick Aupperle
        • i'm going to go on a "wild" guess...

          ...and say that if MS had a problem with Mono they would have sued Xamarin long ago, instead of partenering and endorsing them.

          Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "official", because the way Microsoft seriously promotes cross-platform .NET development is, in short, "Use Mono. We'll help you. Or Apache Cordova. Either one works for us."

          Unless you don't count building support for Mono and Cordova into Visual Studio as "official".