March 23, 2017

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What does Microsoft’s commitment to open source mean for traditional Microsoft vendors?

What does Microsoft’s commitment to open source mean for traditional Microsoft vendors?

I’m a JavaScript guy and I love open source, but I also work for a Microsoft Partner company. I’m the kind of developer who avoids spinning up Visual Studio if I don’t have to, would choose React Native over Xamarin and I know how to run a Linux server… But I’m definitely an exception in .NET circles. When I look at traditional “.NET shops” I start to wonder what happens to them when clients follow Microsoft’s rhetoric about building apps and services in the language and platform that makes sense to them.

To get you up to speed if you still think Microsoft is an evil open source hating corporation here are few facts:

The list just goes on and on… It makes a lot of sense from Microsoft’s point of view. They have their all but failed attempt at the phone OS market, most of the internet runs on Linux, they have always been about the developers (developers, developers) and it all fits into their new mission statement to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Not to mention CEO Satya Nadella came from their Cloud and Enterprise group and anyone who knows anything about the cloud knows Windows is not and won’t ever be the dominant platform.

Microsoft Open Source

But what does this mean for the traditional .NET developer in the traditional .NET shop running traditional on-premise Windows Servers and infrastructure? Do they rush out and learn Scala, install Ubuntu in a Docker container and run their web applications on NGINX? I’m not sure about that…

But one thing that I do know is that they need to embrace open source. The huge amount of great software that is free and very powerful should be considered instead of instinctively reaching for the licence fees and the traditional platforms. The idea that open source software (OSS) is not “enterprise” is so outdated that it makes me cringe when I see simple brochure websites being built with platforms that have massive annual licence fees. Makes me want to just yell out “WordPress!!!” (don’t hate me…)

These thoughts don’t just come from nowhere though. I have seen many comments on announcements by Microsoft by people who are worried about Micrsofts focus. For example this excerpt from a blog about Windows IoT Core and Node.js:

I am very surprised that there seems to be such a heavy focus on Node.js for the IoT platform, but there’s been no real updates/PR given to ASP.NET Core or WPF apps. While Node.js is a great platform, and allows you to be open and flexible, properly supporting the Windows ecosystem should be taking priority […]

I’ve seen similar comments regarding .NET Core and a cross platform UI that could rival the likes of React Native and Native Script in the ability to learn once write anywhere. Kind of like Xamarin forms… But better.

I’ve also called out a colleague talking about a node.js project we completed for a client that runs on Linux for saying “we don’t normally do open source but…”. Microsoft does so why don’t we???

It’s an exciting time to be a Microsoft fan in this new age where it seems Google is become the evil one, Apple is the slow stagnant one and Microsoft is making all the moves! Time to get learning!

Seth Reid

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What does Microsoft’s commitment to open source mean for traditional Microsoft vendors?