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.
        • 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".
    • That's Richard Stallman talking, not actual reality

      Microsoft has had over a decade to sue Miguel over Mono.... not only have they never done it, they've actually helped him out, quite a few times, and asked his advice many others.

      Anti-Microsofters are loathe to acknowledge it, but Microsoft has made many open source contributions. GitHub and codeplex are filled with completely open source Microsoft projects. Microsoft is a top 20 contributor to Linux, making virtualization improvements designed to make it run better on Azure and a better ability to run on UEFI secure boot. Given their new cloud-first business model, it really shouldn't surprise. They aren't giving away the secret sauce any more if the secret sauce is their infrastructure and heavy iron capacity, and not the bits on your locally installed server.

      If Microsoft puts stuff out on an open source license, that's a binding agreement that can't be withdrawn - just because it is Microsoft doing it and not GNU Foundation, doesn't make it any less so.
      • You forget that MS was forced to do so.

        Under a warning that they were violating copyright.

        Then they wouldn't update/fix what they released until told it was going to be removed.
        • What are you talking about?

          You might be referring to something else. I am talking about Mono and .NET here; .NET came first, so I don't think there were too many copyright violations?
          • The "Microsoft is a top 20 contributor to Linux"

            you mentioned. MS didn't release the modifications until after it was pointed out to them that it was a copyright violation if they didn't.
        • Your delta-tau-chi name is BoneHead

          links please to your asinine comment please.
      • Just because MS hasn't sued the Mono developers yet...

        ...doesn't mean they ever will. MS has never sued the Linux kernel developers either, or even (as far as we know) threatened to. And it's clear that MS deems it much more lucrative to shake down OEMs and corporate users than it is to get injunctions against developers or to force them to abandon work by suing them into bankruptcy. Some pro-MS talkbackers who might or might not be shills have even said so (though not recently).

        Very typical patent trolling behavior.
        John L. Ries
      • And still... that "Linux" (whether the kernel or the whole system) violates MS patents and have never given developers any information they could use to remove infringing code.

        MS, of course, would claim the right to run Linux on its own hosting system (you can't violate your own patents); and might even explicitly license its patents for the purpose of running Linux in Hyper V (and even if it didn't it couldn't credibly sue anyone for doing it).

        MS may or may not have instigated SCO v IBM, but it's learned a good deal about IP trolling since then.
        John L. Ries
      • Microsoft open sources more of its .Net technologies

        by open sourcing m$ tools, more and more kids will be able to use and learn from them. just like unix kids of the 70's and the linux kids of the 90's, the future of cloud computing is on the hands of these kids (the future CEOs and decision-makers). m$ is investing in the future. many hate m$ but the facts remain that they have better commitment to giving back to the community they are serving. this is one of them, but with string attached (future m$ dominance). case in point is google android, google is reaping truckload of ad money for their past contribution ... the same will happen to m$. and i hope so, i love m$(dos) and ibm(pc) since day one.
    • Actually, Microsoft is probably the best at protecting you from that

      They offer patent indemnification to their customers (look for "Microsoft patent indemnification" on the web). The stuff that they open source is generally covered under their "Open Specification Promise" (again, you can look this up).

      Stuff from other vendors generally doesn't come with this kind of protection from patent suits; stuff from Microsoft does.
      • Google should have indemnified Android OEM/ODMs

        Then Microsoft would not be making billions of dollars on Android sales. It is now actually possible to make a WP 8.1 phone for less money than an Android phone because WP 8.1 is free and Android devices have a cost in the form of patent royalties to Microsoft. All because Google didn't respect Microsoft's patents and patent laws.

        Microsoft does indemnify its products.
        • MS could always sue Google directly

          Any ideas on why it hasn't? Arguably, Google, by developing and promoting Android has damaged MS more than the OEMs have. And it has deep pockets, making a "patent license deal" potentially lucrative.
          John L. Ries