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Microsoft makes .Net tools open source to work on rival systems

The changes underline CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on getting Microsoft’s tools, products and services onto the widest set of devices and platforms, rather than just on the company’s own Windows operating system. Photo: BloombergPremium
The changes underline CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on getting Microsoft’s tools, products and services onto the widest set of devices and platforms, rather than just on the company’s own Windows operating system. Photo: Bloomberg

The products that will be available in an open source model include all of the .Net programming tools that are used to develop applications for server networks

Seattle: Microsoft Corp. said it will make its .Net programming tools freely available in an open source model, a significant move by chief executive officer (CEO) Satya Nadella to enable the company’s software to work with rival technologies.

The company will also expand the .Net tools so they can run on Linux and Apple Inc.’s Mac operating systems. The products that will be available in an open source model include all of the .Net programming tools that are used to develop applications for server networks.

Microsoft will also work with the open source community and take contributions for .Net updates, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in a statement on Thursday.

The changes underline Nadella’s focus on getting Microsoft’s tools, products and services onto the widest set of devices and platforms, rather than just on the company’s own Windows operating system.

Since becoming CEO of the world’s largest software maker in February, Nadella has already put Microsoft Office, the suite of software that includes spreadsheet software Excel and others, onto Android-based tablets and onto Apple’s mobile gadgets.

Thursday’s announcement will let a customer write a .Net application and have it run on Linux hosted on Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services, said Jeffrey Hammond, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc. He called it the biggest set of products and tools that Microsoft has offered via a freely distributed open source model.

“It’s less about ‘Windows, Windows, Windows’ and more about choice," Hammond said. “Microsoft will still make money on the consumption of services regardless of what operating system they run on or what clients they are deployed to."

The company has been warming to open source and Linux—an operating system it once termed a “cancer" and derided for going against the American way—for years. Microsoft now has an entire website called Microsoft Openness, devoted to showing how it works with others.

“Microsoft has changed as a company and is becoming more open in the way that we work with and collaborate with others in the industry, in how we listen to customers, and in our approach to the cloud," the site said. The company has also contributed some programming code and products to the open source community before.

The move also makes Microsoft products more appealing to governments around the world since most of them are keen on open-source software. In many government deals, openness is a requirement.

The open availability of .Net tools is also likely to endear Microsoft to the developer community.

Microsoft is late in the game, in a space where companies such as Google Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. have scored by being more open, giving away the software and applications free but earning a lot from services. Bloomberg

Mint’s Leslie D’Monte contributed to this story.

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