Microsoft is opening up an early, limited adopter program for the experimental "Orleans" cloud-programming framework built by its eXtreme Computing Group.
Notice of the early adopter program came via a July 25 post by Windows Azure Architect David Gristwood. At the bottom of his post, which highlights a video shown at Microsoft's Build conference about how the 343 Industries team used the Orleans framework in building some real-time services for Halo 4, Gristwood added this:
Update: July 2013 – The “Orleans” team are opening up a small early adopter program. If you want to be considered for access to this program and the “Orleans” code, please email me via this blog.
I mentioned the Halo team's use of Orleans in one of my posts in January 2013. While neither Halo itself nor Xbox Live run on top of Windows Azure, supporting Halo services -- like presence, stats, achievements and more do. As part of its recently announced reorg, Microsoft is moving the Xbox Live and the Xbox operating systems teams into the same OS engineering group as Windows and Windows Phone.
Orleans, as Microsoft officials themselves have described it, "offers a simple programming model build around grains, a unit of computation with private and shared state that communicates exclusively by sending messages to other grains and receiving and replying to requests from clients. Combined with the Orleans runtime, which provides functionality commonly used in this type of system, Orleans raises the level of abstraction and helps developers build scalable correct Cloud applications."
As the Microsoft researchers note on their page about Orleans: "Orleans provides direct support for the .NET programming model. We use standard .NET languages with custom attributes (currently C# is supported; we are working on F#)."
Microsoft Research veteran James Larus, who recently left Microsoft, was involved in the development of Orleans.
Microsoft's eXtreme Computing Group (XCG) is a team in Microsoft Research developing hardware and software supporting cloud computing.
Does the opening up of Orleans to those outside the company indicate that Orleans is moving from research to commercialization some time in the near future? That would be my take.