If 2016 weren’t weird enough already, here’s something else to add to the notion that the end times are approaching: Microsoft is embracing Google, Apple, Samsung and even the free Linux operating system in ways it never has before.
Here’s the quick rundown of the news, coming out of the Microsoft Connect event for programmers:
- Microsoft will be joining the Linux Foundation, which oversees the development of the very popular free operating system Linux. Microsoft spent much of the ’90s fiercely competing with Linux, seeing it as a threat to the dominance of Windows, so this is a notable deal. Microsoft is also releasing a public preview edition of its previously-announced SQL Server database product for Linux.
- Google is joining the steering committe of the .NET Foundation, the independent nonprofit that Microsoft set up in 2014 to oversee the community around the .NET Programming Framework, its very popular set of technologies for building software, particularly software for businesses and for the web.
- Samsung is working with Microsoft to let programmers use .NET to develop apps for Tizen operating system, popular on Samsung smart TVs and other gadgets made by the South Korean company.
- Last, but not least, Microsoft will be releasing a version of Visual Studio for Apple’s Macs. Microsoft accidentally revealed this news earlier this week when it published a blog entry ahead of schedule.
Julia Liuson, Microsoft’s corporate VP of the developer division, says ever since the company embraced open source technologies and a more partner-friendly attitude, it’s been winning over converts who may otherwise never have looked at Microsoft products.
“We’re really finding fans everywhere,” Liuson says.
For instance, she says, a team at Google is using Visual Studio Code, Microsoft’s free lightweight code editor, to build the Chrome browser. That’s gives Microsoft some major brownie points, given Google’s reputation as one of the arbiters of cool in Silicon Valley’s programmer scene.
Which brings us back around to that veritable mountain of announcements. The whole point is to take Microsoft’s improving image in the developer world, and solidify it by making some lasting, formal partnerships.
‘Better than the picture’
Another Google example: Liuson says the team behind the Google Cloud platform kept reaching out to Microsoft with questions about .NET, because their own customers wanted to use it to build their software. Now, Google is officially helping steer the future of .NET, ideally making it better for customers of both companies.
“We’re really building one of the biggest and the most robust ecosystems,” says Liuson.
Similarly, for the last few years, Microsoft has loved trotting out a picture of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella proclaiming his love for the Linux operating system. It’s the first image in this article.
While Linux never caught on as a proper competitor to Windows or Mac on PCs, it’s the operating system of choice for many millions of servers in the world, and Microsoft supports it in its Azure cloud to great enthusiasm.
Now, by signing on as a member of the Linux Foundation, it just proves to the world that its love is real, which has the nice benefit of helping Microsoft prove to developers that Azure is committed to supporting Linux.
“We have something better than the picture,” Liuson says.
Along those lines, Visual Studio for Mac — based heavily on the Xamarin Studio product, which Microsoft got in its purchase of Xamarin earlier this year — is a play to appeal to those many programmers who mainly code on their Macs, but might benefit from some Microsoft technologies.
The bottom line is, Microsoft is showing a willingness to work with competitors and their platforms if it makes developers, still the company’s most important customers, happy. When those customers are happy, they spend more time on Microsoft’s playground. And with these announcements, they’re committing to fair play.
“The excitement is real,” Liuson says.
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