Microsoft + Open Source = Happy .NET Developers

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In recent years Microsoft has been more open about open source, at first I remember Microsoft’s only goal with open source was to work with developers and partners to make sure Microsoft’s proprietary software worked with various popular open source offerings, for example running PHP, Apache, MySQL on Windows, this package is known as WAMP.

When Bill Gates announced his departure from Microsoft back in 1998 many media outlets where writing about this as an opportunity for this company to embrace the open source community and not rely completely on Windows to continue with its undeniable success over the next years. Bill Gates is known to be the architect of Microsoft’s primary strategic initiative, which is Windows everywhere. This strategy has brought Microsoft great success and many billions, but it is a strategy that needs to be modified in order to continue succeeding in the software industry.

Microsoft is changing, and for the good. With ASP.NET, the company has found the perfect product to embrace open source and a great way to engage more with the developer community. As of today, you can find many open source and shared source projects in and CodePlex, many of which have been created by Microsoft employees. In recent years, Microsoft has also released some products as open source, one of the first ones was ASP.NET AJAX Control Toolkit and another very popular project is ASP.NET MVC, check out this list to learn about other open source projects that Microsoft is involved with.

Most of Microsoft’s open source projects are hosted at CodePlex, which is an open source project hosting website. Here is a description from the CodePlex website:

CodePlex is Microsoft’s open source project hosting website. You can use CodePlex to create new projects to share with the world, join others who have already started their own projects, or download open source software on this site and provide feedback.

Hosting over 20,000 projects, CodePlex is one of the fastest growing and most popular open source project hosting sites.

CodePlex provides a rich set of functionality for hosted projects including:

  • Team Foundation Server or Mercurial for project source control
  • Project contributor forks or patches
  • Project release downloads
  • Discussion forums & mailing lists
  • Wiki and documentation pages
  • Bug and feature request tracker
  • Project usage statistics

Follow us on twitter: @codeplex

In 2009, Microsoft also supported the creation of the CodePlex foundation, which in September 2010 changed its name to Outercurve Foundation, to avoid confusion with Microsoft’s open source project hosting site.

Microsoft also founded Port25, the home for communications from the Open Source Community at Microsoft.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check Port25 for the latest news on everything related to open source projects from Microsoft.

Microsoft’s involvement with open source includes participation in open source community projects and is also contributing to the open source community in many ways.

Microsoft is a sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation, is a contributor to the Linux kernel, and contributes to the PHP Community. Microsoft has participated in Apache projects, including HadoopQpid, and Stonehenge. Microsoft also participates in various open source community events, such as the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), Open Source Business Conference (OSBC), EclipseCon, OpenWorld Forum, and the Moodle Conference.

This is exciting for .NET developers who also contribute and support various open source projects and organizations.

To learn more about the specific open source projects that Microsoft is involved in, visit the this page.

Last week at the MIX conference, Scott Guthrie, a Corporate Vice President in the Microsoft Developer Division, used his MIX keynote to discuss the company’s commitment to sponsoring open source projects, such as the Orchard project, a free CMS project in the Outercurve Foundation’s ASP.NET Open Source Gallery.

Also, the ASP.NET team at Microsoft, headed by Scott Guthrie is doing great things with the development community, there are many more developers building open source projects and tools using the .NET platform. The ASP.NET team which is responsible for ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET WebForms and other products has been key to Microsoft’s open source strategy. This team, is also helping Microsoft become more agile and “cool” by being heavily involved with the community, releasing some products frequently as it is the case of NuGet and MVC and by being very active in the developer community.

Some of the members of the ASP.NET team that are well-connected with the community are Scott HanselmanPhil Haack and many others which are always pushing to make Microsoft better and relevant to all the software developers out there. I truly believe that these guys are helping Microsoft become “cool” and fun again, improving Microsoft’s image every day with their blogs, podcasts, presentations, and even some Tweets.

Click here for a feed to other ASP.NET team members blogs.

Many of you will disagree with this article, and that is OK. Microsoft still has a long way to go to earn the trust and reputation it once had with the developer community. However, it is clear that Microsoft is changing every year (for the good) and it is becoming a friendly (and fun) giant and I love that.

Kudos Microsoft!

Comments on "Microsoft + Open Source = Happy .NET Developers"


  1. JP Toto

    This is a nice post and I agree with the sentiment but I think there are some important distinctions between “open source” and more of a “shared source” initiative. ASP.NET MVC is not really open source. You can download the code but not contribute to it. This is a shame because there are some truly great innovations going on in this area that belong in the MVC core dll but will never make it in there. ASP.NET MVC is a product and it will be treated that way with features Microsoft sees fit to include. Until that changes, I don’t think you can consider it or any project with a similar license, “open source”.

    As well, Codeplex has stagnated as of late. Most of the interesting .NET-based projects are hosted on GitHub which, in most views, is a superior hosting platform. (I don’t dislike Hg – I think it’s equal to git, but GitHub is a much more vibrant community). As a .NET developer, I’ve been encouraging users to put their projects on GitHub. I think the movement towards GitHub has done a lot to provide an up tick in .NET OSS.

    Finally, Microsoft really neds to issue an unambiguous patent-wide convent covering all .NET implementations such as Mono. Until then, a lot of developers won’t touch Mono because it’s not “blessed” by Microsoft even when there are some real benefits to using it.

    • Ark-kun

      @JP Toto
      >I think there are some important distinctions between “open source” and more of a “shared source” initiative. ASP.NET MVC is not really open source. You can download the code but not contribute to it.

      It seems that you confuse “open source” (which is antonim of “closed source”) and “free software”. Please read Richard Stallman’s article about this matter.
      “Shared source” IS “open source”

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  4. Alok Kumar Pandey


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