Microsoft recently made some about-face announcements regarding the direction of the Visual Studio products and .NET. It's the best news I've seen from Microsoft for the programming world in a long time. They are finally making a real effort now in the direction that developers have been asking for. I think this can only be beneficial for all. Their IDE is pretty damn slick these days too. I cringe every time I have to use the other guy's IDEs.
Visual Studio Community
First, they released Visual Studio Community 2013 (http://www.visualstudio.com/products/visual-studio-community-vs). This is essentially Visual Studio Professional licensed for free to hobbyists, open source devs, and startup companies operating under $1M/year. Full functionality is there including extensions. This is NOTHING like that crippled Express Edition they've been tossing to us the past few years. This is a fantastic release and you can do some serious development, optimization, and debugging on this version! There's also support for Android and some other interesting items in the latest update for it.
Next, an even bolder announcement is that the upcoming .NET Core version will be OPEN SOURCE as well as officially coming to Mac and Linux!! Visual Studio 2015 is where this will start and shaping up to look pretty good all-around. They have really been pushing to get the latest C++ standards in there and addressing most long time complaints. Somebody finally woke up over there and got to work!
Blog Post (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/somasegar/archive/2014/11/12/opening-up-visual-studio-and-net-to-every-developer-any-application-net-server-core-open-source-and-cross-platform-visual-studio-community-2013-and-preview-of-visual-studio-2015-and-net-2015.aspx)
Visual Studio 2015 Info (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/dotnet/archive/2014/11/12/announcing-net-2015-preview-a-new-era-for-net.aspx)
Interesting developments, I wonder both what prompted it (I doubt it was just pure desire for betterment) and where it will lead; I do look forward to saying C# is multi platform without the endless list of asterisks to head off the "like java or python?" question.
I have not quite forgiven them for excising inline assembly, even if I completely understand why they did it, but this is certainly welcome. Might finally have to update the vista laptop (7 sp1 or newer it seems).
Do we know what they are calling open source? I tend not to stray from the various GPL, ?BSD and MIT stuff but I would rather not have any surprises. Thankfully I also live in a place without software patents but it looks like the standard "don't bother us and we won't bother you" bit.
One just can't appreciate how great Visual Studio is until one had to work a larger project with Eclipse.
So yeah this is good news.
.NET Core's licensed under MIT (https://github.com/dotnet/corefx/blob/master/LICENSE), so they really mean it.