The latest move in Microsoft’s recent habit of playing nicely with other platforms is a big one: the company is open-sourcing its .NET developer tools and taking them to other operating systems.
The 12-year old .NET framework, the foundation used by many developers to craft programs for Windows, will have much of its code open sourced. Its 2015 editions will also help developers build programs for Mac and Linux, the company said on Wednesday.
Releasing software under open source, or allowing developers to tinker with the code behind it, is, to put it mildly, not something Microsoft and its flotilla of proprietary software has been known for (see Bill Gates’ famous letter to early PC tinkerers who were passing around copies of Microsoft’s earliest software).
But Microsoft’s strategy now emphasizes getting its products in front of customers regardless of what platform they’re using. Microsoft telegraphed a bit of its intentions for .NET at its Build conference in April, saying it would allow developers to fiddle with .NET’s compiler, the program that translates programmers’ code into languages computers use to run programs.
“This significantly expands the choices developers have when finding the right tool to solve their problem,” Brian McCallister, chief technology officer with Groupon, said in Microsoft’s release announcing the change.