Eclipse Snags Microsoft, Launches Che IDE for the Cloud

Microsoft announced it has joined the open-source Eclipse Foundation and Eclipse officially releases the Eclipse Che cloud IDE.

Microsoft Eclipse

The Eclipse Foundation is on a roll this week, opening its EclipseCon 2016 event, officially releasing its new Che integrated development environment (IDE) and welcoming Microsoft as a member of the organization.

Today at EclipseCon in Reston, Va., Microsoft announced its membership in the Eclipse Foundation, an organization born to foster the development and proliferation of open-source software.

Standing in front of an image displaying the word Microsoft, a heart and the word Eclipse—as in Microsoft loves Eclipse—Shanku Niyogi, general manager of Microsoft's Visual Studio team, took the stage as part of the morning keynote to announce that Microsoft was joining Eclipse to further reach out to Java developers.

"Today, I'm happy to share that Microsoft is taking its relationship with the Eclipse community to the next level by joining the Eclipse Foundation as a Solutions Member," Niyogi said in a blog post. "Joining the Eclipse Foundation enables us to collaborate more closely with the Eclipse community, deliver a great set of tools and services for all development teams, and continuously improve our cloud services, SDKs and tools."

Niyogi noted that Microsoft delivers a number of Eclipse-based tools today. The Azure Toolkit for Eclipse and Java SDK for Azure enable Eclipse users to build cloud applications. And with the free Team Explorer Everywhere plug-in, developers have access to the full suite of source control, team services and DevOps capabilities of Visual Studio Team Services from within their IDE, he said. These offerings will continue to be maintained and shared through the Eclipse Marketplace, Niyogi added.

"We recognize the great work coming out of the Eclipse and Java developer community and appreciate that Eclipse developer tools are used by millions of developers worldwide," Niyogi said in his post. "We have worked with the Eclipse Foundation for many years to improve the Java experience across our portfolio of application platform and development services, including Visual Studio Team Services and Microsoft Azure."

Ten, or even five, years ago this might have been a surprise move for Microsoft, but today this is business as usual for the tech giant. Just yesterday, Microsoft announced it was making SQL Server available on Linux. And these are just the most recent in a series of overtures Microsoft continues to make toward the open-source community.

"At this point of the game, we should understand that Microsoft means business as a multi-platform and open-source player," said Al Hilwa, an analyst with IDC. "Becoming a bigger supporter of the Java developer ecosystem brings more users to Microsoft's powerful developer offerings like VSTS [Visual Studio Team Services] and deployment offerings like the Azure cloud. Azure is a full-service cloud that is intended to compete at the highest level of the market and competing on Linux is a must, not a choice. That Microsoft products like SQL Server have to come to Linux over time is also a business must."

Hilwa explained that Eclipse traces its roots to efforts inside IBM "to battle Microsoft's encroaching strength in application development, initially with the popularity of Visual Basic and later with .NET and Visual Studio. The tools framework was turned into an open-source effort and a foundation over a decade ago and has largely accomplished its mission of creating a set of rich tools and an ecosystem for Java."

Thomas Murphy, a Gartner analyst, said he believes Microsoft's joining Eclipse is small compared to the company putting SQL Server on Linux. "Microsoft has connected to Eclipse for some time for TFS [Team Foundation Server] and they have participated in some Eclipse meetings in the past," Murphy said. "I don't think of it being a big deal other than Eclipse is still a core foundation for a lot of Java developers and Microsoft continues to tell a story about being open."

Yet, Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told eWEEK he's not sure he'd call joining Eclipse business-as-usual quite yet, though Microsoft does seem to be on a significantly different track today than it was two or three years ago.