Python and Microsoft?

Posted on Wed 03 January 2018 in Posts

Much has been said about how Microsoft has changed in recent years, no longer the super closed-source monopolistic giant it once was.  Regardless of whether or not you believe the change is real or just at the surface, permanent or temporary, etc, there is definitely some interesting things that have come up recently.  One is how everyone's favourite programming language is starting to take a prominent role in many of Microsoft's offerings.

For example, in 2017 Microsoft announced on the SQL Server Blog that Python 3.5 would be embedded within SQL Server and be able to be used natively in that product.  This is huge for the data science & machine learning communities.  I haven't yet played with this, but supposedly you can effectively write stored procedures using Python.

Another change illustrating the adoption of Python within the Microsoft ecosystem has been in Visual Studio Code land. Originally Python support in VS Code came via a (really, really well made) extension written by Don Jayamanne.  And last November Don was hired by Microsoft full-time and the Python extension is now a fully MS-supported part of VS Code.  Brett Canon (a Python core contributor who also works at Microsoft) is now the dev lead for the Python extension.  And they're also actively hiring looking for people for "Visual Studio Code / Python!"

Lastly, there's been a bunch of noise (see here, here, and here) about how Microsoft is now actively seeking input on how Python could potentially be used as potentially a replacement for VBA as the macro/scripting language in Excel.  It's still way too early on this to see what will come of it, but imagine a world where managers who spend their lives in Excel get the power of Python at their fingertips and what that could potentially do for raising the exposure of the language.

Does all this indicate a trend?  I hope so, I think the adoption of Python in Microsoft products will help boost the popularity of the language even further (and it had some explosive growth in 2017). Interesting times all the same.