.NET Framework on Mac OS X?

by Brian Jepson

It's March 2001, and if all goes well, Mac OS X will come out this month. If Sonnet comes through, I'll be running the new operating system on the same Mac I'm typing this on (a former Power Macintosh 7200/75 with a 7500 motherboard and Sonnet Crescendo G3).

In addition to sporting a spiffy new interface, Mac OS X is built on top of on an open-source BSD derivative called Darwin. As of this writing, Netcraft's list of sites with the longest uptimes shows a lot of BSD variants. If Mac OS X follows on the footsteps of its BSD brethren, it could become a popular server operating system.

Microsoft has positioned .NET as a competitor to J2EE. If .NET is to compete head-to-head, it wouldn't hurt if it ran on popular server platforms. Plus, Java 2 has already found its way into the Mac OS X space, so there is plenty of incentive for Microsoft to try to gain a foothold there.

Server platforms aside, .NET could be the foundation for future end-user Windows applications using the Windows Forms API. Microsoft remains committed to supporting Mac OS X with their current line of products, and I see no indication that they are planning to abandon it in the future.

Let's look at what one of Microsoft's top .NET people (the designer of the C# language) has to say. In Episode 7 of the MSDN Show, Anders Hejlsberg says, "And, of course, [the standardization of the common language infrastructure] will inevitably down the line lead to implementations on different operating systems such as the Mac OS and certainly such as UNIX and such as Linux."

It's great to see Microsoft engineers thinking different!