The beginning of an era for the Software Development Community
At a recent Connect ( ); conference 2 days ago, Microsoft made a major announcement that he will be open sourcing its full server-side .NET stack and will be making it available for cross-platform use on major open source platforms which include Linux and Mac. This is really a big deal for the software development industry and surely marks the beginning of a new era!
Now this announcement, fundamental as it may be, must be viewed from a few angles. In over 12 years in which the .NET Framework has been the programming model used by developers to build apps for Windows, developers have come to accept Microsoft’s business model concerning licencing, especially the fact that one has to purchase a licence to use their high end products. So why would Microsoft after over a decade of selling one of their most important software products decide to give it away for free?
The Bigger Picture
At a recent media event at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond Washington, Microsoft’s chief Satya Nadella, re-defined, in a very remarkable way what Microsoft is all about and how he see’s the Microsoft’s core focus areas to be in the near future. He mentioned the following:
I just think about three things. There are a few other efforts we do, and I’ve been very clear about those efforts and why they exist and why we are proud of them. But, there are three products in all of this. There is Windows, there is Office 365, and there is Azure. That’s it. Everything else to me is, of course, you can call them features, you can call them parts of that, and even there there’s complexity. Do we need to tame it make sure that we’re not inundated by lots and lots of things? But, from a business model, from what moves the needle for both usage and our revenue, those are the three big things that we are very, very focused on.
That in itself gives you a picture of where Microsoft’s efforts are pointing so. Hence in a way, one can clearly see that software development in Microsoft’s view will become hugely commoditized in the near future. Hence the focus should really be on building services in the cloud that users can consume at scale.
Reducing Barriers To Entry
In my personal experience of the software development industry especially in South Africa, my observation has been that licencing is big issue in any organization, and is mostly the determining factor as to whether an organization will adopt proprietary software development tools or will go open-source. And when we talk about open-source a handful of names come up which include: PHP, Java, Mysql and Linux. So Microsoft’s entry into this area is definitely a game changer as all of a sudden the issue of licencing is removed from the picture. So the question will be “What’s stopping you from building your products using the .NET Framework?”
Wider User Adoption
We are now living a mobile world where if you build software it must be accessible from any device possible and running any platform. In the past the barrier in achieving this was the platform being used. It really mattered if in your organization you ran predominantly a Linux platform or a Windows platform. So with Microsoft opening up the .NET framework to be freely used in a Linux and a Mac environment immediately blurs the platform line. This development essentially means in the near future you can build your good old, C# of VB.NET app and deploy it into the platform of your choice without having to worry about compatibility.
Microsoft is really at a defining moment right now, and is radically changing .net framework based software development as we know it. Do you see any new opportunities with the .NET Framework becoming open – source? Share your views.