Microsoft takes another step toward Eclipse of proprietary software

Microsoft's membership in the Eclipse Foundation represents the company's commitment to transforming from a company fixated on proprietary software to one that embraces open source.
Written by Chris Kanaracus, Contributor

Microsoft has joined the Eclipse Foundation, taking another important step in changing its identity from a company fixated on proprietary software to one that embraces open source and wants to be seen as a polygot development tools provider open to developers of all stripes.

See also: Microsoft integrates Visual Studio with open-source Eclipse IDE

The Eclipse Foundation is a nonprofit organization that governs the development of Eclipse, a widely used Java IDE (integrated development environment). Microsoft, which offers the highly mature Visual Studio IDE for its own .NET Framework, is joining Eclipse as a Solutions member; that's one tier below the top level Strategic membership group, where the likes of IBM, Oracle and Red Hat are members.

In a blog post, Microsoft GM Shanku Niyogi explained the company's decision:

At Microsoft, our developer mission is to deliver experiences that empower any developer, building any application, on any OS. And this mission requires us to be open, flexible, and interoperable: to meet developers and development teams where they are, and provide tools, services and platforms that help them take ideas into production.

We recognize the great work coming out of the Eclipse and Java developer community and appreciate that Eclipse developer tools are used by millions of developers worldwide. We have worked with the Eclipse Foundation for many years to improve the Java experience across our portfolio of application platform and development services, including Visual Studio Team Services and Microsoft Azure.

Today, I'm happy to share that Microsoft is taking its relationship with the Eclipse community to the next level by joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solutions Member. Joining the Eclipse Foundation enables us to collaborate more closely with the Eclipse community, deliver a great set of tools and services for all development teams, and continuously improve our cloud services, SDKs and tools.

As Niyogi's post implies, it's not a terribly large leap for Microsoft to join the Eclipse Foundation, given the work it's already done. But symbolism counts for something, and this is just the latest example of Microsoft's changing culture under the tenure of CEO Satya Nadella. Earlier this week, it announced support for running one of its most lucrative enterprise products, SQL Server, on Linux. [See our full report here].

The other reality is that there's a battle on for developers among Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and other top cloud computing platform vendors. The .NET development community is vast and deeply embedded in enterprise IT shops, but so is Java, and in today's climate Microsoft doesn't want to do anything that gets in the way of Java developers building on top of Azure.

Currently, Microsoft has enabled this with Azure Toolkit for Eclipse and Java SDK for Azure. As part of the Eclipse Foundation announcement, Microsoft also revealed several pieces of tooling news:

We are open sourcing the Team Explorer Everywhere Plugin for Eclipse on GitHub today, so we can develop it together with the Eclipse community.Azure IoT Suite support in Kura. We will contribute an Azure IoT Hub Connector to Kura that will allow to easily connect gateways running Kura to Azure IoT Suite.Azure Java WebApp support in the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse, which makes it easy to take a Java web app and have it running in Azure within secondsA refreshed and updated Azure Java Dev CenterWith the Java Tools Challenge, we are inviting Java developers to build apps and extensions for VSTS.

Team Explorer Everywhere is an existing tool that allows developers working in Eclipse to directly utilize Microsoft's Team Foundation Server, which provides source code management, project and requirements management, and other capabilities development teams need. Kura is an IoT project at Eclipse that provides an API framework for gateways.

Overall, the Eclipse announcements are a good move by Microsoft, says Constellation Research VP and principal analyst Holger Mueller. "It's bringing Microsoft assets to Eclipse and making it easier for Eclipse developers to tie into Microsoft services and products," he says. The question is how much of a cross-usage market there is, but you need to build it before they can use it."


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