Microsoft is quietly reinventing itself, moving from an old business model entwined with outdated cultural norms to become relevant again as the technology leader in a data rich and computationally empowered world. This is quite at odds coming from me as a 30 year veteran of the open source community and now part of this new journey. We’ve seen and been disappointed before by Microsoft’s open source engagements but Microsoft’s future depends on change and so this time it is serious.
It’s a journey though! The ecosystem is growing to encompass many open source offerings from Microsoft whilst also encompassing many of our favourite open source tools, coupled, sometimes uneasily still, with the closed source heritage.
Microsoft is bringing all of this together onto the Azure compute platform. We are empowering everyone from independent data scientist consultants through to enterprise data science teams with tools and accessible compute. We can now deliver the compute resources required when needed with hte freedom of using our tools of choice.
A pathway into this new world for developers is through the Microsoft Visual Studio Dev Essentials program (you don’t need to use Visual Studio!). Developers can sign up for a free access account. Through this access developers can explore, for example, Microsoft’s enhancements to the most widely used tool for the data scientist, R. Many of these enhancements (but not all) remain closed source and limit our freedoms. Nonetheless they are worthy a look.
I share here the steps you can follow to sign up as a developer for free access to the Visual Studio Dev Essentials program.
- Visit Visual Studio Dev Essentials and choose to Get a new account or Join now.
- Provide an email address and password and be sure to read and if appropriate to then accept the terms and conditions.
- A code will be sent to your email address. Enter the code and then click Next.
- Provide your name, country, and then click Continue.
- Click on Join Visual Studio Dev Essentials (if you are a developer).
- You will get a $25 monthly Azure credit for 12 months (useful for creating a Linux Data Science Virtual Machine offering an off-the-shelf open source stack packed with the data scientist’s toolkit).
- Accept terms and conditions, then Confirm.
- You then have a Visual Studio Dev Essentials free subscription.
- Explore the packages now available, in particular you can now download Microsoft R Server 9.0.1. To do so you might see Microsoft R Server instead. Click on that download and on the download page search for 9.0.1 to find Microsoft R Server 9.0.1 release. See my guide to Installing Microsoft R Server 9.0.1 on Ubuntu 16.10 for details.
Graham @ Microsoft