Microsoft Now Visionary Sponsor Of Python
Written by Mike James   
Monday, 03 May 2021

Microsoft has increased its existing support for the Python, becoming a Visionary Sponsor by making a $150K donation. The funds will be focused on the Packaging Working Group to help with development costs for further improvements to PyPI and the packaging ecosystem. 


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As we reported in February, Google became the Python Software Foundation's first sponsor of at the recently introduced Visionary Level, for those making donation of at least $150K per annum. Since then Bloomberg has appeared on the PSF's list of Visionary Sponsors and now Microsoft Azure has been added.

Like Google, Microsoft has been a long-time supporter of the PSF, first becoming a sponsor in 2006. In his post announcing increased support for Python, Dan Taylor, Microsoft's Principal Product Manager for Python and AI tools explains why Microsoft holds Python in high esteem and outlines the ways Microsoft contributes to the Python community beyond direct financial support.

He writes:

The rapid rise of Python over the past 5 years is well documented and impressive. Python’s rise has been driven primarily by the growth of data science and aided by its long history of scripting, web development, use in education, and a careful balance of the language’s productivity with ease-of-use. Python, a language with a strong emphasis on developer productivity, has been dear to our hearts and aligns closely with our mission.

Taylor notes that Microsoft is a top-tier sponsor of the annual Pycon US event where it has also sponsored the PyLadies auction for the past 3 years and that it has also participated in and sponsored other Python events around the world.

Python is of course open source and as such Microsoft developers can contribute to the development of the language. Microsoft is in fact the employer of five core developers of the project including Guido van Rossum the creator of the language and, until he resigned from the position in 2018 its BDFL - Benevolent Dictator For Life. Having previously worked for Google, van Rossum left DropBox where he had worked for over 6 years in 2019 and, finding his retirement boring joined Microsoft in November 2020. In his new role as a Distinguished Engineer in the Developer Division he is currently exploring performance improvements to CPython. 

It was in 2011 that Microsoft initially brought us Python Tools for Visual Studio (PTVS), a free-open source plug in for VS 2010 which enabled developers to use all the major productivity features of Visual Studio to build Python code. This editing and debugging facility subsequently evolved from being an extension to, in  VS 2017, being fully integrated as Python Support in Visual Studio.  

 

Microsoft has repeatedly added features to the Python extension for Visual Studio Code so that VS Code has become a popular environment for Python coding. Last year I reported on Pylance, the new language server for Python, which uses the Language Server Protocol to communicate with VS Code to add fast, static type checking, autocomplete, and live type information about symbols among other features to the existing Python extension in VSCode.

Microsoft has shared a lot of its Python-related tools with the open-source community. According to Taylor, 

As part of our support for Python in Visual Studio Code, we have open sourced the core Python extension, the Jupyter extension, the debugpy debug engine, and the pyright type checker. 

and goes on to say:

With our Pylance IntelliSense engine, we are contributing to the advancement of type checking by open sourcing pyright, the underlying type-checker. We have made significant improvements in the speed and accuracy of the pyright so that it is fast enough to be used interactively in an editor. We have also contributed to the development of several typing PEPs (e.g. PEP 647), and improved type-stubs and typing implementations in libraries such as PyTorch.

There's a further list of open-sourced facilities related to Python in the Azure context starting with the Azure Functions Python worker, for running and debugging functions locally and then hosting them in any cloud by using Kubernetes.

Taylor rounds out by stating:

Most of all we want you to be able to build great things with Python, and we are committed to supporting Python as a first-class language across our products and services.      

Given Python's ever increasing popularity not only as a teaching language but also over many domains from AI and Data Science to DevOps and even web development, Microsoft's backing for the language seems well placed.

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  • Mike James is the author of Programmer's Python: Everything is an Object published by I/O Press as part of the  I Programmer Library. With the subtitle "Something Completely Different" this book is for those who want to understand the deeper logic in the approach that Python 3 takes to classes and objects.

More Information

Python Software Foundation Announcement

Related Articles

Google Promises Increased Support For Python

Guido van Rossum Joins Microsoft

Microsoft Improves Python Support In VSCode

What Makes Python Great & Greater

 

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Last Updated ( Monday, 03 May 2021 )