January 4, 2006 8:16 AM PST

Microsoft embraces open-source scripting language

Microsoft has released a beta of its .Net port to Python.

IronPython 1.0 Beta 1, which was released at the end of last week, is "well integrated" with the rest of the .Net programming framework and allows all .Net libraries to be "easily" accessed by Python programmers, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft's support for Python could help the software giant attract Unix developers to the Windows platform, as it is a commonly used scripting language on the Unix platform, according to Salim Fadhley, who develops Python programs for Unix.

"If Microsoft embraces Python, it could be a big draw for Unix hackers--if our favorite language was supported as a first-tier language by a major software vendor, it would be a major draw to Windows. At the moment, most Python developers hack on Mac and Linux," Fadhley said. "IronPython could be a massive landgrab by Microsoft into the domain of traditional Unix scripting."

But Microsoft isn't the only organization trying to bring .Net support to other platforms--it will have to compete with the open-source Mono project, which aims to bring .Net support to non-Microsoft operating systems including Unix.

Microsoft has not said whether it will add IronPython support to its Visual Studio tools suite, but many believe that it will. These rumors were further fueled by the news in December that software vendor ActiveState is dropping support for its Visual Python product, a Visual Studio plug-in for the scripting language.

Fadhley, who is also an open-source developer for the Plone content management system and Zope application server projects, said open-source developers are more likely to consider using Visual Studio for software development if it supported Python.

"My opinion is that it's going to appeal to open sourcers who are normally very suspicious of Microsoft. I would never normally be seen using Microsoft Visual Studio, however, this might just tip the balance away from other products, like IBM's Eclipse," Fadhley said. "But for the foreseeable future, I shall still be using Eclipse on Linux or Mac, which are very mature platforms for Python."

Microsoft has not said when the final release of IronPython 1.0 will be ready, but the project team said there are unlikely to be more than 10 beta releases.

The IronPython beta can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site.

Ingrid Marson of Builder UK reported from London.

18 comments

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Not really 100% opensource like regular Python
.NET's compiler is closed source. Mono's compiler is opensource but still contracted under closed source licensing in certain ways to MS. C#, Iron Python are not totally Opensource languages like regular Python etc.

Taking over Ecclipse? uhn uh.

Ecclipse is a 100% opensource soultion unlike the VisStu environment.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Embrace, extend, extinguish.
Don't forget what happened with Java. Here we go again.
Posted by HughJJorgan (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Repackaged poo
They did the same thing with C++. Why do they think they need to repackage everything and then automatically with their seal of approval it is somehow the right choice? Whatever.
Also C++ is compatible with C unlike C# with C/C++.
They can do anything they want but why try to break compatibility and take over. eeesh. Well if people like C# that's OK, cool for them, but there are major computability issues unlike, with the regular unleaded languages.
Posted by Blito (436 comments )
Link Flag
DANG! Beat me to it!
Microsoft and open source is about as homogenous as oil and water. At this point Im willing to call BS on any actives that deal with open source. open source is the enemy. Playing nice is NOT a possibility for them. Whatever games they are up to you can rest assure that they will try and screw someone over down the road. Its happened before, it will happen again.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Link Flag
ActiveState already there ...
Why would Microsoft do something like this? Is there a lot of money in this segmant of the market? Python has been available to Windows courtesy of ActiveState (www.activestate.com). There was even Python .NET available, which is now free, as it did not atract enough people to use it with Visual Studio. Most people would prefer to pay for Komodo as their IDE anyways. What's next? Microsoft going to muscle into COBOL .NET and garner mainframe coders?
Posted by cyberspittle (165 comments )
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COBOL .NET
COBOL.NET has already been offered by fujitsu (netcobol) since 2002

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://sqlservercode.blogspot.com/" target="_newWindow">http://sqlservercode.blogspot.com/</a>
Posted by SqlserverCode (165 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Why are they doing this?
Microsoft hopes to extend their monopoly control to the server-side of the internet, so they're trying to lure web developers to their platform. Once there, they will probably lock them in by introducing proprietary extensions that only work on Windows. It's their usual MO, and it's been very successful for them in the past.

So it's all about control, not money.
Posted by open-mind (1027 comments )
Link Flag
No evil intent here
Reading the comments here, I don't think any of you have the slightest idea about the .NET framework. The only thing they're doing here is adding another compiler for another language that compiles to intermediate language.

VB.NET, C#, COBOL.NET, and now this, all take the specific language and compile to the same MSIL, similar to the way that Java is turned into byte code. MSIL is then JIT-compiled to the platform it's running on, which at least for Microsoft is either the 32-bit or 64-bit framework. That's it.

Of course they want you to code for their platform. They are a business. But what I find interesting is the shift away from charging for the tools and keeping the costs associated with the server products. You have always, since the early betas, been able to download the framework and compilers for free. Now you can even download and use the IDE's for free, and in a production environment.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
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who you kidding?
we don't need to now the inside out of .NET to know it was intended as a java replavcement because MS didn't control java. we don't need to know anything more to understand that this move is an attempt to (as previoulsly described) embrace, extend, extinguish. what rock have you been hiding under for the last 20 years?

MS had the oppoertunity to reinvent themesleves and embrace the Net 10 years ago and if they had done so they could have done a google and positioned themselves to control it but likee most entrenched companies they could not see that their cash cow is the very thing that holds them back from moving forward. BillyBoy will not regain the control he had and has missed the party, but that won't stop him from making it as difficult as possible for the new technologies t gain a foothold. But open source is the deathknell for MS (MS sounds like a disease doesn't it?) and the web companies have the reach and money to control the webtop, which is the future.

Our kids will look back on these years with disbelief that a company with such big ideas and crappy execution of them could have ever controlled anything, and wonder how proprietary software could have ruled our lives for so long.

My kids use three different operating systems and don't really know the difference between them because almost everything they do is web based and the apps they use are crossplatform.

The future is here but MS can't see it or are frightened of it.
Posted by gpenglase (87 comments )
Link Flag
IronPython
I very optimistic about IronPython, a project which started with the intention to prove that ".Net is a bad platform for dynamic languages" by Jim Hugunin and came to a contrary conclusion that .Net is a decent platform for dynamic languages (To my knowledge till version 0.6 or 0.7 he was not with MSFT). I was very happy that Microsoft invited Jim and provided him with the resources to complete the project. IronPython is good for Python and equally good for .Net

cheers.
Posted by YankeePoodle (785 comments )
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No need for change, this works very well for them
Microsoft and J.P. apparently think enough time has passed that we have all forgotten about Microsoft's tried and true (and very, very well documented) recipe of embrace-and-destroy.

For MS this move does two things.

1. For the first time, MS can say they support platform independent computing right out of the box... But I'm guessing, if they haven't already, it's only a matter of time before they load up their version of Python with all sorts of special calls to deeply ingrained Windows-only API's, making it, and any script written for it, Windows-only.

2. By throwing their considerable weight behind the least popular of the big-3 platform-independent scripting languages (Perl, PHP way ahead, and Python a distant third), they have helped to splinter platform-independent developers (divide-and-conquer has been around a bit longer than MS, but it's a nice complement to their already-perfected embrace-and-destroy motif, don't you think?).

Also, anybody who would argue that Microsoft does anything out of a sense of integrity or correctness should probably Google "Zhao Jing" Who's American hosted blog about Chinese politics has been shut down by MSN on behalf of Chinese political leaders.
Posted by StoshNick (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yeah right
MS &#38; Open Source will only happen in order to take over and destroy. Fortunately, MS cannot destroy Open Source. It is too big, there are too many people involved, and too much innovation even for the biggest software company on earth to compete with.

Any programmer who uses ironpython is not a real python programmer, rather a pretend one.

The Internet is open and most software under development today is open. MS is one of the few who are closed and still in the dark ages.

The Internet Age is an age of openess. MS is not a true Internet company. They are stuck in the 90s attitude of 'here is some software in a box for $500'. That concept is running a bit thin these days.

Open Source offers so much choice that .net is definately a much smaller and limited world.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Incorrect statement.
IronPython is released under a license that fits the open source definition and the debian free software definition.

So is Mono, there is no "special licensing" deal of any kind.

Your comment is fairly missinformed.
Posted by migueldeicaza (2 comments )
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