Microsoft Open Sources Some .NET Code, Launches .NET Foundation With Xamarin

After taking a number of steps in recent years to improve its relations with the open source community, Microsoft is now taking what could accurately be described as a giant leap.

On Thursday, Microsoft launched the .NET Foundation, an umbrella website for its ongoing efforts to open source more of its .NET code and other projects in conjunction with industry partners.

One of Microsoft's first .NET Foundation partners is Xamarin, the mobile app development startup that Microsoft is said to be considering acquiring or investing in, sources familiar with the talks told CRN last month.

Microsoft is contributing its new .NET compiler platform, code-named Roslyn, which is now available as an open source project. In addition to enabling developers to add their own features, this means Roslyn can be used on other platforms.

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[Related: Sources: Microsoft In Talks To Acquire Mobile App Startup Xamarin ]

Microsoft also is contributing its Windows Azure .NET SDK, Windows Phone Toolkit, ASP.NET Web Pages and .NET API for Hadoop, among other code. Roslyn is now available as an end-user preview for Visual Studio 2013.

"We think this is going to take .NET to the next level and add even more engagement to the community," Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, said in a keynote at the Build conference.

Microsoft has signed up other partners for the .NET Foundation, including GitHub, IdentityMine, Glimpse, Umbraco and Compiled Experience.

Xamarin is contributing six of its own projects to the .NET Foundation, and Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza, in a brief appearance at the Build keynote, revealed that the Xamarin Studio mobile development tool will support Microsoft's Roslyn compiler.

While an acquisition wasn't unveiled at Build, Microsoft's 6 million-plus .NET developers, combined with Xamarin's developer base of some 570,000, make this partnership a potentially important one for mobile developers interested in writing code that targets multiple platforms.