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Microsoft woos open source developers by joining the Linux Foundation

Microsoft woos open source developers by joining the Linux Foundation

Mark Kaelin TechRepublic Monday, 21 November 2016

To be successful, Microsoft must entice developers to build apps that use its cloud services. Several key announcements aim to do just that.

If you search Google or Bing for "Steve Ballmer developers," the first result is likely to be a video of the former Microsoft CEO manically chanting developers, over and over again. Despite the disturbing insanity of the presentation, the message was, and still is, correct. Microsoft, and every other software maker and device manufacturer, needs developers to be successful.

While Steve Ballmer obviously knew this (just check the video), he failed to understand what would bring independent and enterprise developers into the Microsoft fold. Under the leadership of current CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has transformed itself from a proprietary purveyor of software to a platform-neutral cloud-based software-as-a-service provider and developers all over have started to notice.

Making connections

In November 2016, at its annual Connect(); conference, Microsoft made three important announcements designed to energize enterprise developers and drive more use of the Microsoft ecosystem of AzureWindows 10, and Office 365:

  • Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member.
  • Google joined the .NET Foundation.
  • Microsoft worked with Samsung to enable .NET developers to build apps for Samsung devices.

Steve Ballmer's mantra of developers, developers, developers has been replaced with Satya Nadella's mobile-first, cloud-first strategy—and these three announcements exemplify that new way of thinking.

By allowing developers to use more tools regardless of their preferred platform, the Microsoft ecosystem becomes a more desirable place for the building of cross-platform applications and services. Whether you are an old-school developer working exclusively in Linux or you are all in with Azure, Microsoft wants you building apps for its ecosystem.

Linux and the evil empire

When the news broke that Microsoft had joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member, some of my "open source is the only way" friends seemed slightly perplexed. There is still a large part of the open source community that looks upon Microsoft as the leader of an evil empire. Those developers are confusing the old Microsoft with the new Microsoft.

For Apple, Alphabet (formerly Google), and Microsoft, it is all about the cloud services these days. Those three companies, and a few others, know that the future of software is as a service. Apps must be designed for a mobile device, must be cross platform, and must be able to access cloud services. In Microsoft's case, preferably it's cloud services.

Bottom line

A lot has changed since 2008, when Steve Ballmer sweated his way to a viral video. We are living in a different world now. A world where software is no longer a proprietary system that developers must be drawn into kicking and screaming, but a service that everyone must be able to access using whatever tools they want to use.

In a mobile-first, cloud-first world, there is no other way to conduct business. Microsoft continues to take the steps necessary to create a universal and inclusive ecosystem where all developers are welcome regardless of what tools, platform, or programming language they choose to use. Enterprises around the world demand that kind of flexibility and Microsoft is looking to provide it, even if it means openly collaborating with the open source community.