Microsoft Joins the Eclipse Foundation, Open Sources Team Explorer Everywhere

The Eclipse Foundation welcomed a once-unlikely new member this week: Microsoft. The Redmond software giant, which has been making moves recently to support open source and Java developers, announced that it is joining the Foundation as a Solutions Member. The company made the announcement at the EclipseCon event in Reston, Va.

"We recognize the great work coming out of the Eclipse and Java developer community," wrote Shanku Niyogi, GM of Microsoft's Developer Division, in a blog post, "and appreciate that Eclipse developer tools are used by millions of developers worldwide .... 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."

There are five types of memberships to the Eclipse Foundation, four for organizations, and one for individuals. A Solutions Member is an organization that offers products and services based on Eclipse and wants to participate in the development of the Eclipse ecosystem.

Microsoft has been working with the Eclipse Foundation for a number of years to improve the Java experience across its application platform and development services. The company currently offers several Eclipse-based tools, including the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse, the Java SDK for Azure, and the Team Explorer Plugin. The company plans to offer more tools and services specifically for Java and Eclipse developers. It will also contribute an Azure IoT Hub connector to the Eclipse Kura project, which provides an Java/OSGi-based framework for IoT gateways, and it is adding Azure Java WebApp support in the Azure Toolkit for Eclipse.

"At this point of the game, we should understand that Microsoft means business as a multi-platform and open source player and begin to be less surprised by these 'hell freezing over' announcements," IDC analyst Al Hilwa told ADTmag in an e-mail. He pointed to Microsoft's recent acquisition of mobile app platform vendor Xamarin and its announcement this week that it is making SQL Server available on Linux as other examples.

"Becoming a bigger supporter of the Java developer ecosystem brings more users to Microsoft's powerful developer offerings, like Visual Studio Team System, and deployment offerings like the Azure cloud," Hilwa said. "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."

During a keynote presentation at the EclipseCon event, Niyogi also revealed that Microsoft is open sourcing its Team Explorer Everywhere plug-in for Eclipse, for both Visual Studio Team Services and Team Foundation Server, on GitHub under an MIT license. Microsoft is currently sponsoring the Java Tools Challenge, in which developers compete by creating either a Visual Studio Team Services extension that helps developers create, test, and deploy Java apps, or a Java app using Team Explorer Everywhere or the JetBrains IntelliJ plug-in.

"In the last couple of years, Microsoft has definitely been more open and more friendly towards open source," said Ian Skerrett, the Eclipse Foundation's VP of marketing. "At the EclipseCon keynote there was a big applause for their announcement, so I think the Eclipse community welcomes their participation. It seems clear to me that Microsoft really understands that they need to exist in a heterogeneous world of developer environments and operating systems. Their contributions build the bridges developers require to use Microsoft services and Eclipse."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].