In recent years, Python has been getting more and more popular, it’s been also embraced by Microsoft: Python support was added to some of their products, and there are numerous Microsoft employees contributing to Python core. So what’s going on here, does Microsoft own any ownership rights for Python?
Python is not owned by Microsoft, all the intellectual property rights regarding Python are licensed to the Python Software Foundation. However Guido van Rossum, the original creator of Python is currently employed by Microsoft. Also, there is a .NET-based implementation of Python, called IronPython that was created by Microsoft employees, but it was abandoned in 2010.
What is the connection then? Why does Microsoft back so many Python projects?
Python Software Foundation - Who Owns Python?
Python was originally created by Guido van Rossum in the late 1980s. It started out as an open-source project and was released under various GPL-compatible licenses over the years. In 2001 the Python Software Foundation was created with the goal of promoting and protecting the Python language.
Python uses a somewhat interesting ownership/licensing model: all contributors keep their ownership for the code they contribute to the Python codebase, but they license all the rights to the PSF as part of the contribution process.
Python And Microsoft
For many years Python was mostly ignored by Microsoft, as company policy was to favour their own in-house languages (like C# and the .NET platform), but it seems to have changed in recent years. Microsoft seem to be more and more invested in Python. Here are some examples of this effort:
Guido van Rossum Is Employed By Microsoft
Guido van Rossum, the original creator of Python came back from retirement in 2020 and joined the developer team at Microsoft. Van Rossum is part of the steering council and former Benevolent Dictator For Life of Python, so it’s probably safe to say that his word has the biggest effect on the decisions regarding the future of the Python programming language. However that does not come with ownership rights of Python on his or Microsoft’s part.
Some Of The Python Core Developers Are Employed By Microsoft
Microsoft has a small - but apparently growing - Python team. According to Steve Dower Microsoft employs five core developers, and many more CPython contributors.
Microsoft Had Its Own Python Version: IronPython
IronPython is an alternative Python implementation. It is built on the .NET framework and Mono.
Iron Python was first released in 2006. The project was created by Microsoft employee Jim Hugunin. In 2010 IronPython was abandoned by Microsoft. Hugunin shortly left the company and got hired by Google, while IronPython’s development continued as a community effort.
IronPython is compliant with the Python language specification, though differs from CPython (the reference implementation) in some aspects. For example, just like Jython, IronPython has a JIT compiler.
Unlike CPython, IronPython does not have a Global Interpreter Lock (GIL), so it has the potential for more effective multithreading.
IronPython is quite easy to interface with the .NET framework, however some extensions that depend on native C libraries might not work properly.
Microsoft added Python Support To Visual Studio And VS Code
To help the work of Python developers, Microsoft introduced Python support for both Visual Studio and VS Code. It is available as an extension, and includes feature like intellisense, autocomplete, linting and debugging. You can also edit and run Jupyter notebooks from your IDE.
Python In The Cloud - Microsoft Azure Python Pipelines
The Azure platform - Microsoft’s cloud solution - now provides native Python support. You can build and deploy Python apps in Microsoft’s cloud.