Here's why 8.5 million users love Visual Studio Code, the free software that's helping Microsoft win over programmers in the cloud wars with Amazon
For a long time, Microsoft had the reputation for being unfriendly to developers.
After all, Microsoft infamously spent much of the '90s and '00s battling with the open source community - the free and remixable software that they were creating posed an existential threat to Windows and other Microsoft products. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer even infamously called the open source operating system Linux "a cancer."
But 2014 marked a turning point, when Satya Nadella took the reins as CEO, leading the company to turn this attitude around. About a year into his reign, Microsoft released one of the surest signs yet of its new attitude: Visual Studio Code, a free and open source code editor that has its roots in Visual Studio, Microsoft's flagship integrated development environment (IDE), which is essentially the software that developers use to make more software.
Just Monday, Microsoft announced an online version of Visual Studio, which supports Visual Studio Code.
Not only did Visual Studio Code come with no strings attached, but it was available for Apple's MacOS and the open source Linux operating system, in addition to Windows. Compared to Visual Studio, it has fewer features and is much more simple to use. It went on to become a massive hit with developers, with adoption levels bordering on the viral. After all, it costs nothing to download and try it out.
Today, Visual Studio Code is used by developers at companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Red Hat, and the like. It has 8.5 million monthly average users, and 19,000 developers contributing to it, making it the top open source project on GitHub. And according to the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, it's the most popular IDE out there today, with 50.7% of developers using it, up from 34.9% the previous year.