Microsoft Counting on Developers to Follow .Net to the Cloud
"Before the open-sourcing of .NET itself, the Unix and open-source world assumed that Microsoft could, at any point, sue them for patent infringement," de Icaza said. "This is a thorn that has been by Mono's side since the project's inception. With the open sourcing of .NET and the patent covenant, that dark cloud over .NET on Unix has been lifted," De Icaza asserted. "This puts .NET on an equal footing with other technologies in the open-source world, and it can now compete on its merits and not be ignored from the start based on fear." .NET for the CloudBy opening up Visual Studio to open source as well as Microsoft's own platforms, Microsoft retains its influence over the development process, Hollis said. "When they change .NET to adapt to cloud or mobile, there's no debate about whether developers get those changes—they just come along for the ride," he added. This positive view of Visual Studio's strength is shared by David Fuller, vice president of applications and embedded software for National Instruments. "Visual Studio provides productivity features for the large-scale team-based designer," he said. "We did exhaustive analysis of managed languages and consider .NET to be best in class in terms of language design and productivity versus performance tradeoffs. Further, there is a vast ecosystem of partners and IP that we felt we could leverage for our product development," Fuller said. Hollis said he believes that for the short to medium term, .NET is well-positioned for use in cloud applications. "I think it's the dominant platform created in the Internet age; it's very flexible but not too hard to learn and lots of developers know it." However, .NET was created for a world of internal servers and desktops, Hollis noted. It will need some significant changes and additions to become as dominant in the cloud as it has been for the last 10 years in businesses. So just making it cross-platform and open-source is not enough for the long term, he argues. "A platform that can be dominant in the cloud for the long term will need to change the way we think about application development to optimize it for the cloud," Hollis said. For example, such a platform would do a better job of separation of plumbing code and business logic. The standardization inherent in the cloud makes that both feasible and desirable. "Applications will also need to be rethought to take advantage of cloud-based engines," Hollis said. "Today, for example, speech recognition is far more practical and widely available because the heavy lifting is done in the cloud. We need cloud engines for lots of other things, such as on-the-fly creation of user interfaces optimized for the particular device being addressed," he said. According to Hollis, .NET could be the platform where such new cloud technologies are implemented, but it's not a sure thing that it will be the platform of choice. "A lot depends on Microsoft's vision for doing cloud-based innovation in .NET," he said. Leave No Developer Behind Microsoft will share a lot more of its vision for .NET at the upcoming dotnetConf 2015 March 18-19 and Microsoft Build 2015 at the end of April.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is leaning heavily on its flagship Visual Studio toolset to move .NET into the mobile-first, cloud-first world, said Billy Hollis, partner at Next Version Systems and a member of the Microsoft Regional Director program.