For proof of how radically Microsoft has evolved, especially in terms of its approach to its own software stack, look no further than the newly open sourced and cross-platform incarnation of ASP.Net, named ASP.Net vNext. And for an example of how wise that strategy has been, look no further than the efforts of one programmer to get ASP.Net vNext running on OS X and Linux.
As reported by eWeek, Australian .Net developer Graeme Christie was able to port ASP.Net vNext to those platforms -- with a fair amount of help from Microsoft. "Microsoft [is] fully integrating Mono [an earlier .Net framework developed for platforms other than Windows] and Linux into their build environment and test matrix," Christie wrote in a blog post, "and [is] actively working with the community to make Mono a top class platform for hosting ASP.Net."
Microsoft is not planning to deploy versions of vNext directly for OS X or Linux, but rather to foster the development of vNext on top of Mono for those platforms. A rough parallel would be how a major multiplatform application -- for example, Mozilla's Firefox -- might be ported to a new platform: first by enthusiasts, then later with aid from its original creators to ensure the resulting product is up to snuff.
To that end, getting vNext running on OS X and Linux right now requires a little heavy lifting. The process that Christie describes is a multistep procedure that requires first building Mono, then Microsoft's K Version Manager and K Runtime Environment tools. In other words, it's not a one-click installation or deployment process -- yet.
Making ASP.Net vNext open source is by itself a major step forward for the platform, but it's far from the only enhancement. Web Platform Team architect Scott Hanselman wrote in detail about what else vNext offers developers, including more granular deployment for apps (such as allowing each app to have its own sub-edition of the .Net Framework with its own set of packages), optimizations for low-memory and high-throughput scenarios, and cloud- and server-optimized versions of libraries.
As committed as Microsoft is to open source in its post-Ballmer incarnation, the company has also been prudent about how it goes about doing so. For one, Microsoft elected to use the Apache 2.0 license for ASP.Net vNext, the same license Google used for Android -- most likely for the same reasons, since the Apache license allows a company to use open source code without also having to free up any proprietary enhancements it might make. vNext could remain at the heart of any number of commercial projects -- for example, Microsoft's for-pay development tools or its server products -- without impacting their licensing.
Microsoft has been inching toward open-sourcing ASP.Net for some time, mainly via the pieces associated with it. In 2009, the ASP.Net MVC framework was open-sourced under Microsoft's MS-PL license, although licensing the underlying code seemed like a pipe dream kept out of reach more by Microsoft's intractability on the issue than any underlying intellectual property issues. But now all that has changed, and it's up to developers to see how much more headway the new ASP.Net makes on platforms other than Windows.
This story, "Microsoft's new open source ASP.Net can run on Linux, OS X," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.