Microsoft tempts cross-platform developers with free Visual Studio

Microsoft has extended Visual Studio to Mac and Linux developers

While aimed at a technical audience, the demonstrations and announcements showed the company’s ambition to focus on cloud and cross platform user experiences.

The company also showed business orchestration technology using the Azure cloud.

Microsoft has taken a major step forward in supporting cross-platform development and the open-source community, extending Visual Studio to Mac and Linux developers.

Kicking off its annual Build 2015 developer conference, the company introduced Visual Studio Code, a free programming tool closely tied to the Azure cloud, which Microsoft said would be released to run natively on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Microsoft also released a preview of the .Net Core for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, along with Visual Studio 2015 Release Candidate, for building and deploying applications to Windows, Linux, iOS and Android platforms.

In terms of cloud computing, Microsoft unveiled Azure SQL Database, which enables developers to pool capacity across thousands of databases.

The company also introduced Azure SQL Data Warehouse to provide data warehouse as a service and Azure Data Lake, an open, scalable data repository that Microsoft said could support petabyte-size files and provides high-speed integration with Azure HDInsight, Azure Machine Learning, Cloudera and Hortonworks.

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During his keynote presentation at Build 2015, Satya Nadella (pictured), CEO of Microsoft, said: "One person or a small group of people can have a huge impact. We want to be able to take inspiration from the apps you build to drive platform innovation."

He said Microsoft’s goal was to democratise software development to enable every developer to build intelligent applications using services on the Azure cloud.

One of the guest speakers at the Build 2015 keynote presentation was Ben Golub, CEO of Docker, the company that has made significant inroads in the use of container technology to run componentised applications. 

"Microsoft has embraced the notion to make multi-container platforms truly open – and mix and match Windows and Linux," said Golub.

This opens up the possibility of using .Net-based components within a highly containerised distributed application environment, the so-called microservices architecture, which is increasingly being deployed for complex webscale applications.

Among the demonstrations at the conference was a portable .Net application running in a Docker container.

"We have open-sourced the core .Net runtime, and made it first class when running in containers," said Scott Guthrie, Microsoft cloud chief.

Scott Hansellmna, program manager at Microsoft, introduced a new type of application category for Microsoft called logic applications. The application uses business orchestration services on Azure to connect applications written in to call external web services hosted in the cloud, like those within Salesforce and Twilio, using the Swagger.

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