In the latest sign that there is a new regime at Microsoft, the company announced it will release the full server-side stack of the .Net framework as open source code, and that Visual Studio 2013 will be free for small teams of developers.
The news came at the start of Microsoft’s Connect(); event in New York, where the company released preview editions of Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 2015. Microsoft also committed to expanding .Net to run on the Linux and Mac OS platforms.
There has been an effort since 2000 to create a cross-platform runtime for .Net, called Mono. In that time, they have created an Ecma standard-compliant, .NET Framework-compatible set of tools, including a C# compiler and a Common Language Runtime. It is available on Android, most Linux distributions, BSD, OS X, Windows, and Solaris.
Microsoft is releasing the full .NET server stack in open source, including ASP.NET, the .NET compiler, the .NET Core Runtime, Framework, and Libraries. It is released under the fairly permissive MIT License, which is comparable to the BSD license and gives end users a lot of permissions to use the code.
Microsoft said it plans to work closely with the open source community and take contributions for future improvements to .NET. It will also work through the .NET Foundation.
As for the developer tools, Microsoft has made Visual Studio Community 2013 available immediately as a free, fully featured edition of Visual Studio including full extensibility – able to target devices and desktop – to Web and cloud services. You just can't use it for enterprise development or with more than five people.
Microsoft did detail Visual Studio 2015 and .NET 2015 a little. The theme is to build for any device. The new studio and framework are built from the ground up to support the development of applications and services for iOS, Android, and Windows.
Microsoft also announced a preview of ASP.NET 5.0, which has been optimized for cloud and server workloads and supports the new Connected Services Manager in Visual Studio 2015 to make it easier to connect applications to line-of-business API services like Office 365 and Salesforce, among others.
Finally, Microsoft announced an expansion of its partnership with Xamarin, the company formed by the Mono team after Attachmate purchased Novell, the original developer of Mono, in 2011 and let go of the Mono team. The two announced plans to install Xamarin in Visual Studio will support Xamarin Starter Edition, available later in the year.
It's definitely a new day at Microsoft.