Developer interest in C# has declined sharply since its peak in 2012 according to data from the TIOBE index. As one former .NET developer wrote back in 2015, this precipitous decline in due to the rise of cloud-native application frameworks and mobile platforms where Microsoft developers are not first-class citizens.
The reach of Microsoft’s developer ecosystem has declined in the past five years due to the rise of non-Microsoft web frameworks and mobile platforms. Android and iOS control 90% of the world wide smartphone market and .net developers aren’t first class citizens on those platforms. – Justin Angel, former .NET developer
Microsoft’s mobile device market share slipped below 1% again earlier this year. Yet there are growing signs that Microsoft’s long ball strategy of adopting open source and doubling down on developer tools may be starting to pay off. Last year Microsoft surprised everyone when it announced a partnership with longtime rival Red Hat to deliver Linux on the Microsoft Azure cloud computing service. Earlier this year Microsoft acquired Xamarin, which helps .NET developers build mobile apps for Android and IOS.
Microsoft seems to be listening to IT leaders, who have been under tremendous pressure to create agility for the enterprise application developers who are driving innovation. The move to open source .NET Foundation and the creation of Windows Server Nano is designed to put a stop to enterprises re-writing .NET applications in order to migrate to Linux.
Microsoft has also moved quickly to adopt Docker and containerization with native support for Docker containers in Windows Server 2016 and recently hiring Google’s lead developer on Kubernetes. The widespread adoption of containers is a boon for Microsoft because it enables developers to easily move applications from one environment to another. As developers increasingly use container-centric tools they become less reliant on the management interfaces of cloud rival Amazon Web Services and can more easily move applications to Azure. At the annual Ignite conference in September 2016 Microsoft showed a new demo of Docker in Visual Studio.
The results seem to suggest that Microsoft’s strategy is working. According to a recent article data from Synergy Research Group puts Azure cloud growth at 100% year-over-year, making Azure the #2 pubic cloud behind Amazon AWS. In 2017 enterprises with large investments in .NET may find these advances very compelling as they continue to seek a viable cloud strategy. Amazon’s lead in the public cloud has been so far been insurmountable. Do my eyes deceive me or does the most recent data from Indeed show a modest increase in C# job postings over the last 12 months? In 2017 we may finally see a real contest.