[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times April 4, 2014.]
SAN FRANCISCO — Though Satya Nadella did not appear during the keynote on the second day of Build, a certain spirit of openness some attribute to the new Microsoft CEO seemed to pervade the announcements.
On Thursday, in a keynote centered on advancements in the company’s tools and cloud services for developers, the executives onstage at the annual conference also made sure to emphasize the cross-platform capabilities of its offerings and even made open source one of its largest pieces of code.
To be sure, many of these projects were going on under former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, said analyst Al Hilwa with research firm IDC.
“But it seems to have accelerated under Satya,” Hilwa said. “There’s a change in attitude toward other platforms. They’re changing their business model more aggressively.”
Among the announcements Microsoft made Thursday:
• The introduction of Azure Preview Portal, which brings together infrastructure and platform services and integrates Microsoft’s and third-party services of the user’s choice, allowing developers and IT workers to create and manage apps in one place.
Azure is Microsoft’s cloud platform.
• The general availability of Visual Studio Online, the online version of the environment developers use to create applications. Included are a lightweight editor to make code changes without having to leave Azure, the ability to debug in Visual Studio also without leaving Azure, and Application Insights, which gathers data on an application’s health and allows for easy retrieval of that data.
• The open-source availability of the .NET compiler platform (code-named “Roslyn”).
.NET is the Microsoft programming framework used by many developers to create Windows applications. A compiler translates code from the language the programmer uses to the language a machine uses to run a program.
Making the .NET compiler platform open source enables developers to see and tinker with something that has historically been proprietary.
Hilwa, the IDC analyst, said: “This technology is probably the single biggest piece of code Microsoft has put in open source, ever. It’s a major technology.”
He sees the move as symbolic of a more open Microsoft, given Microsoft’s historic antagonism toward open source.