Microsoft Connect Announcements

Today, November 12th, Microsoft made some major announcements about the .NET Ecosystem.

I’m going to concentrate on four points: Open Source, Cross Platform, Deployment, and Community Involvement.

Open Source

The core .NET Framework is now Open Source. No longer will you choose “Microsoft or Open Source?” The entire Microsoft .NET Development stack is moving to Open Source. From the core CLR on up. I remember NDA meetings with a very small set of people many years ago starting to push for a moment like this. It has taken a long time, and this movement has slowly garnered more and more people. Before I go any further, thanks to those folks that worked at Microsoft back then and started this ball rolling.

It’s really Open Source: It’s being distributed under the MIT license, and the team has committed to accepting community contributions. You can grab the source, build it, use it, fork it, and do anything else allowed by the standard MIT license. It’s a great day.

Cross Platform

By “do anything that’s allowed by the standard MIT License”, that includes running .NET on platforms other than Windows. That explicitly includes Linux and Mac platforms. In fact, to support these platforms, Microsoft will be releasing official distributions for both Linux and Windows.  

Let me repeat this: Microsoft will be releasing official distributions of .NET for Linux and Mac, in addition to the traditional Windows platforms.


As part of the work to create Open Source and Cross-Platform .NET distributions, Microsoft is also breaking the link between the Windows OS updates and .NET. You no longer need to run your .NET applications using the framework in the Global Assembly Cache (GAC), on a machine wide basis.

Instead, you can deliver the .NET core framework (or just the parts you use) with your application. This means you can run .NET based server applications that use different versions of the framework on the same machine.

There’s a huge advantage for this: In a data center, you can upgrade individual application on individual machines without forcing the DevOps team to upgrade machines in the Data Center. You can even run different applications with different versions of the framework on the same machine.

It follows that you can run new versions of the framework in Azure before the team has rolled out new images with updated bits.

Just deploy your needed version of the framework locally with your application.

Community Involvement

Finally, the big finish: Visual Studio 2015 Community Edition. This edition is similar to the previous Professional edition, and it’s now free for independent developers. (Enterprises must still license Visual Studio for commercial use). This is a much more useful edition than the previous Express editions: you can build web sites, mobile applications, and windows applications all with the same edition. You’re not limited to just one style of application. Also, this new community edition supports plug ins and extensions.

I’m excited about this as a great product for students I teach. Too often students were using the trial (time limited) trial, or the express versions. Those just weren’t great tools to keep learning and keep growing. This new version is.

Now what?

This is a huge set of announcements, and it’s only the beginning. Microsoft just made a set of huge bets in cross-platform Open Source. I know I have some biases, but .NET is the most open, most viable cross-platform toolset available today.

When someone asks if you have a cross-platform, mobile, or Open Source strategy, you can answer: “Yes, it’s all in .NET.”

Exciting times.

Created: 11/13/2014 12:50:17 AM

Current Projects

I create content for .NET Core. My work appears in the .NET Core documentation site. I'm primarily responsible for the section that will help you learn C#.

All of these projects are Open Source (using the Creative Commons license for content, and the MIT license for code). If you would like to contribute, visit our GitHub Repository. Or, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for improvement, please create an issue for us.

I'm also the president of Humanitarian Toolbox. We build Open Source software that supports Humanitarian Disaster Relief efforts. We'd appreciate any help you can give to our projects. Look at our GitHub home page to see a list of our current projects. See what interests you, and dive in.

Or, if you have a group of volunteers, talk to us about hosting a codeathon event.