Microsoft, TypeScript, Code & me

If you’re among the two or three readers who have been following this blog through most of its more than ten years of more or less continued activity, you possibly noticed that, as a GNU/Linux user (with not a fanatic but yet a certain emphasis on the GNU part), in some way I possibly have learnt and am supposed to at least dislike Microsoft for a bunch of reasons. Some of these definitely still are valid, but it’s hard to miss that others are in the process of changing…

Sure, some things possibly stay the same. But it’s difficult to miss the fact that some things indeed changed: While I am writing this, there’s an instance of Visual Studio Code running on another virtual GNOME desktop, showing an angular2 / TypeScript project. Both things are pretty interesting. Both are Open Source technologies released under MIT and Apache licenses. Both are Microsoft technologies. Both run in my Linux environment, actually Code even comes as an installable .deb package that works without too much ado on my system.

This in itself is pretty noteworthy. Very well I remember an older quote by Linus Thorvalds saying “if Microsoft ever does applications for Linux it means I’ve won”. To repeat and completely let that sink in: Genuine Microsoft software. For Linux. Open Source. Installable via default Linux package management tools, even on systems such as Arch Linux. No cryptic license key to be entered, no activation via internet or phone call – nothing we’ve seen (and “liked”) about Microsoft so far, in the past. So it means that either Linux has won – or Microsoft is changing, in some way, and in not quite bad a way.

Because maybe there’s something way more interesting: Code and TypeScript, after all, aren’t “just” Microsoft software that went open source for whichever (technical, political, …) reasons. They’re far more than that technologies that build on top of existing open technologies and frameworks such as nodejs, npm or chromium. They (most specifically TypeScript) are, the other way ’round, already pretty much adopted in other open source projects such as angular2 – which in the end means Microsoft technology becoming not just open source projects in an isolated world of its own (like some of the pretty good open source projects hosted at codeplex) but actually adopted and accepted contributions in a technological world beyond what so far seemed the usual Microsoft boundaries.

As stated above, as I am pretty much used to bashing Microsoft for various reasons, it’s difficult to re-learn and start writing from a slightly different point of view. ;) However, even this way I have to admit these guys have quite a history of at least building good development tools such as Visual Studio and .NET, and angular2+typescript+code is an interesting and productive working environment (leaving aside some of my general issues with JavaScript for a moment). We’ll possibly see what will grow out of this, but so far, one can safely say they have done quite a good job here. Seeing more to follow definitely wouldn’t be bad – a more “open” Microsoft definitely would be an interesting thing to think about in terms of competition and options to choose from.

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