The New Microsoft

jeikabu profile image jeikabu Originally published at rendered-obsolete.github.io on ・2 min read

The recent announcement that Hyper-V Quick Create now features Ubuntu served as a reminder of something I originally regarded with cautious amusement, but has now subsisted for long enough I can actually accept it. Microsoft is no longer the “evil empire” it once was.

In No Particular Order

C# and Windows 2k/7 were the proverbial “foot in the door”. The former being (imho) the managed language/runtime that Java should have been, the latter being (again, imho) the first OS from Redmond that was difficult to really complain about as an end-user.

The Microsoft acquisition of Xamarin was interesting. Other than becoming a first-class component of Visual Studio doesn’t seem like much has come out of this, however.

“Express” editions of Visual Studio have existed for a long time, but Visual Studio Community felt like the first that was a real product that could be used by professionals.

Orleans is probably of limited use to the majority of people, but it’s an interesting contribution in the area of distributed systems.

When Windows Subsystem for Linux was announced it might as well have been hell freezing over. Ok, I haven’t actually used it for anything and as far as I can tell it’s comparable to either cygwin or msys, but still…

After using Emacs for 3 years and then Vim for almost 15 as my general-purpose text editor of choice, Visual Studio Code has handedly brushed them aside.

.Net Core seems to have really lit the fire under C#. My love for it and .Net Standard can scarcely be contained.

Just the other day I found out PowerShell is also multi-platform. Its remoting functionality was convoluted/clumsy compared to ssh the last time I looked at it (2015), but I have long lusted after its commandline argument auto-completion. And, if Windows is a necessity in your world, a first-class replacement for cmd.exe was sorely needed.

On that note, OpenSSH is an optional Windows component.

Can’t leave out the much maligned Github acquisition.

Honorable mention goes to Azure. Never used it, but have heard generally good things. And let’s be honest, Amazon/AWS need the competition.

Just the latest chapter in the “embrace, extend, extinguish” saga? Perhaps.

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I couldn't agree more. Being a full-time 🎩 #OpenSourcerer I was attracted by the idea of an open source editor VSCode which I fell in love with, contributed to its core code, which was amazing. And three weeks down the road I am launching VSCode.pro course.

I never thought I'll be doing all this for a Microsoft product. They have definitely changed a lot. Also, I did a good deal of work with Azure functions — wrote about it.

Peace! ✌️


full-time open sourcerer

Amazing title 😄


Interesting to hear about your experience contributing to VSCode. Should do an article about that if you haven't already.

The more I hear about Azure the more it sounds like I should look into it.


Yes, I'd try to do that. Would be an interesting post. Right now focused on sharing VSCode tips before I release the course.

🤣 Editing the 70 videos I recorded nowadays, it's tough to listen to yourself all day long when you are not a good listener of sorts.

After that, I'll get to that and also want to write about my 🦄 Shades of Purple theme which has had over 50 releases now. Lots I learned through it.

Only if there were 48 hours in a day.


Only if there were 48 hours in a day, I definitely know the feeling....


I've been building on the MS stack since .NET 1, mainly because that's the work I had available to me. Before that in the early 2000s, I went through a hard core linux phase where I very commonly bashed the "evil empire". I only managed to successfully convince businesses to use a handful of linux machines, and all of them were servers. This experience (from the sysadmin side too) ultimately shattered my notions about Linux taking over Windows market share. Subsequently, I went to work for a non-profit. It turns out that MS licensing terms for non-profits is generous on the whole, so there was no downside to going whole hog with MS. Then yet later I worked as a linux server admin and then a supercomputer admin -- all linux nodes of course -- before I was tasked with .NET work again.

So I've been involved with MS products for a while, but lived on both sides of the fence. MS is definitely a different company from the Developers, Developers, Developers, Developers era, thankfully. It seems that the current leaders there have a better outlook on the part MS plays in the broader community. I hope that trend continues for many years to come.

But let us not forget that at the end of the day all these big tech companies (MS, Apple, Google, FB) exist to turn a profit. At times that will be at odds with what is best for the community or end users. So it would be a mistake to relax and just assume any future plans include your best interests. "Trust, but verify."


I'll take that quote to heart.
Appreciate the comment.


And yet they still being rather evil when it comes to Windows, Office, and browsers.
Sure they removed the nag screens which showed up when you tried to install Chrome or Firefox. But Windows 10 is still being turned into a subscription service more and more. Application defaults are often reset during major patches/OS upgrades.
Office deliberately makes damaged ODF files. It doesn't even follow their own OOXML standard.

But also in most examples you give, there is no embracing going on. It is "kind of" giving away their technology to convert people to a MS stack. A lot of Microsoft's involvement in FLOSS is their own projects, and to much less degree contributing to community efforts.

Just like Google. Just because Google releases a lot of FLOSS and contributes to a lot of projects doesn't suddenly undo their evil activities at other places.

Big tech companies are to be feared.


All good points.

I kind of had that in mind when I mentioned WSL vs msys et al. They could have embraced an existing project, but they created their own instead. I know virtually nothing about any of these projects and their implementations may differ wildly (along with their pros/cons), but there's plenty of other examples.

I've mostly come to accept that most company's involvement is more selfish than altruistic.


I saw/read a talk this year, but I cannot find the link now maybe someone else can add it around here ...

It was a Microsoft manager explaining how the first project got open source, got a lot of traction and benefits, and then the other teams saw and jumped a board ASAP ...


It was probably a Scott Hanselman talk if I had to guess. I believe ASP.NET was the first part of the stack to go open source.


This sounds interesting, I'll have to look for this.

Would be interesting to hear if this is one of the reasons that ASP.NET Core has turned out as good as it has.

Here is a timely article about C# compiler going open source, and it touches on other projects which influenced that decision. Including my favorite language, F#.

I saw this as well. Opened a tab with it, but have yet to read it.


On the other hand Oracle is becoming old Microsoft. After they announced they will not provide free (as in beer) releases of JDK and will not provide patches for OpenJDK either. Who could have thought this will happen?


Being a Xamarin developer, I beg to differ.
There are a lot of apps already made with Xamarin :) and it has some really cool concepts, especially the possibility to deploy native apps to windows, iOS, Android and MacOS! With Linux TBD :)


Weren't most/all those things true pre-MS acquisition? OSX support in Forms is fairly recent (and awesome), but Xamarin.Mac existed well before.

I think you're agreeing with me that Xamarin is nifty. But I've been waiting for something bigger/revolutionary following the partnership. Unreasonable expectations?


Not at all. But think of it this way. If Microsoft hadn't bought Xamarin, maybe there wouldn't be so much support as it currently has. Behind covers Xamarin has improved a lot, in terms of performance for example.


Microsoft is doing a lot of things quite right these days, even their Android apps are amazing (and free). I wonder why people still insist on "BUT WINDOWS ME!"...


Must admit, I'm shocked that someone with a username like "tuxor" would make a pro-MS comment. =)
Although, perhaps it has nothing to do with Tux.


It had once. But even then I wasn't a fanatic.


When I first installed Visual Studio Code as a .deb, it felt like hell freezing over: Microsoft building software for Linux was something hardly to be imagined in the late 1990s (talking Halloween Papers) and the early 2000s. So far I like some of the aspects of what could be the "new" Microsoft, and I see a few potential reasons for these changes:

  • A load of developers recently have been socialized and used to working "in the open", working with and on FLOSS software and this way more or less influencing the corporate culture at Microsoft, too, while trying to provide a good working environment for talents. There was a podcast episode on changelog (I think it was this one changelog.com/podcast/134 ) on that a while ago.

  • Current competition in some interesting fields is way stronger than years ago. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, hardly anything could endanger the Windows desktop and the homogenous Windows desktop/server environment in corporate networks. By now, we see Apple devices, Android tablets and the like on one end and AWS/Google Cloud/Docker+Linux based servers on the other, for a load of applications. Even some SMEs don't buy Microsoft software anymore for some core things such as calendaring and e-mail instead but rather buy into Google Apps for Business. At some point, Microsoft possibly needed some change, and maybe it's even good they focussed on something they (definitely) always were capable of doing pretty well: Developer tools. Visual Studio Code is great despite its .. fragile ... foundation, I'm using it on a daily basis for almost everything.

  • Maybe however, too, something less optimistic: Maybe, right now, Microsoft is not focussing anymore on aspects that don't seem that much relevant and important anymore. We're talking IoT and artificial intelligence as likely-to-be future game changers. Maybe we will see a much "harsher" Microsoft again in near future trying to compete in these fields, with all means at hand (patents, licensing, ...).

It's likely to stay interesting; meanwhile I enjoy the "more open" Microsoft where I encounter it. :)


I'm definitely enjoying it (albeit, cautiously) as well.
All good points, I appreciate the comment.


Before entering into the development world I always used Windows since my first computer back in 2000~2001. I was fine with that as user. After starting developing I discovered that developers thought Microsoft was evil. Honestly, I've never really understood this opinion and even now I think it was just the idea that "not engage in open source = evil" and Microsoft is changing that now. I never tried to go deeper into the conversation as well because to me it was not worth it.
Sorry for creating the polemic here. hahaha


Like emacs vs vi, Beatles vs Elvis, chocolate vs vanilla, I don't think it can be understood in any conventional sense. ;)

Thanks for the comment.