Microsoft Open-Sources JavaScript Engine

GitHub Edge

Microsoft has announced plans to open-source yet another software platform: the Shakra JavaScript engine, which undergirds its new browser, Edge.

ChakraCore sources are available via a GitHub repository, under an MIT License. The repository “provides a fully supported and open-source standalone JavaScript engine,” reads Microsoft’s official blog posting on the matter, “with the same characteristics as the Microsoft’s Edge Chakra engine.” Microsoft plans on using those community contributions to the ChakraCore to boost Microsoft Edge, which is shipping with copies of Windows 10.

With the current release, developers can build ChakraCore on Windows 7 SP1 and above with Visual Studio 2013 or 2015 with C++ installed, but Microsoft intends to port onto other platforms, including Linux. In order to facilitate cross-platform porting, Microsoft’s developers separated out Chakra’s JIT compiler, with a build configuration centered on the interpreter and runtime. Other features are likewise geared to cross-platform support.

Since Satya Nadella took the CEO role at Microsoft in 2014, the company has made a public show of embracing open-source. That’s a sea change from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, who once famously termed Linux a “cancer.” Today, Microsoft’s Azure team hires open-source experts, a reflection of the prevalence of open-source technology in the cloud and mobile.

Despite that attempt to reconcile itself with the open-source community, Microsoft likely won’t give up its reliance on proprietary software anytime soon, considering how Office, Windows, and other platforms continue to generate billions of dollars’ worth of revenue per year. If you’re interested in working at Microsoft in an open-source capacity, you’ll still need familiarity with Windows in addition to Linux-based systems.