Microsoft has made a further commitment to open source by releasing its full server-side .Net stack as open source and expanding .Net support to include Linux and Mac OS X platforms.
The firm also released a free edition of Visual Studio that provides easy access to the core developer toolset.
Microsoft said during the Connect developer event that the firm is delivering on a promise to support cross-platform development by providing the full .Net server stack in open source, including ASP.Net, the .Net compiler, the .Net Core Runtime, Framework and Libraries, enabling developers to build with .Net across Windows, Mac or Linux.
The .Net Framework is a multi-language platform for developing and running applications and web services, and has traditionally been restricted to Windows server and client platforms.
Making it open source should enable it to be used across platforms, according to the firm.
"Today's open source announcement means that developers will have a fully supported, fully open source, fully cross-platform .Net stack for creating server and cloud applications, including everything from the C#/VB compilers, to the CLR [Common Language Runtime], to the core .Net base class libraries, to the higher-level .Net Web, Data and API frameworks," said Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft's Cloud and Enterprise group, in a blog post.
The class libraries for the .Net Core are available on GitHub, but this does not currently contain the entire set of libraries that Microsoft intends to release.
At the same time, Microsoft is releasing an official distribution of the .Net Core for Linux and for Apple's Mac OS X platform.
"This will enable you to build .Net server and cloud applications and run them on both Windows Server and Linux. It is going to enable every developer to use .Net, and to do so on a fully open source runtime," Guthrie said.
These platforms have been able to run .Net code for some time thanks to the Mono open source project, but Microsoft said that its latest move will create a single code base for developers to target across all supported platforms.
"We will be working closely with the Mono community as we complete our Linux port. The Mono community have done a great job advancing .Net and Linux over the last decade," Guthrie said.
"Releasing the .Net Core source under an open source licence is going to enable us to collaborate together much more closely going forward."
Microsoft has also made available Visual Studio Community 2013, a free but fully featured edition of Visual Studio that includes the full set of extensibility capabilities seen in the commercial editions.
This will be free for individual developers working on a commercial or non-commercial project, those contributing to an open source project, educational users, or any non-enterprise organisation with five or fewer developers, Microsoft said.
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