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Microsoft is boosting its support for the Python programming ecosystem

Microsoft’s sponsorship funds will be used to improve PyPI and the packaging ecosystem.

Microsoft is now a ‘Visionary Sponsor’ of the Python Software Foundation.

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Microsoft is now a ‘Visionary Sponsor’ of the Python Software Foundation.

Image: James Sanders/TechRepublic

Microsoft has said it is increasing its support for the Python community while pledging to open source “as much of the work we do as possible” to push the programming language forward in emerging fields like data science.

Microsoft has pledged $150,000 in financial sponsorship to the Python Software Foundation (PSF), the non-profit organization that holds the rights to the increasingly popular language created by Guido Van Rossum in 1991.

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Microsoft said part of the funding would go towards improving the Python Package Index (PyPI) and the wider packaging ecosystem. Dan Taylor, principal program manager, Python and AI Tools at Microsoft, pointed to security improvements as a key focus of investment.

“With recently disclosed security vulnerabilities, trusted supply chain is a critical issue for us and the Python community, and we are excited to help contribute to long-term improvements,” said Taylor.

Microsoft has been a sponsor of the PSF since 2006, but has amped up its involvement in the Python ecosystem in recent years amid the programming language’s rapid rise in popularity.

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In November 2020, Van Rossum – who is also president of the PSF – came out of retirement to head up the company’s Developer Division. As Distinguished Engineer, Van Rossum is primarily exploring performance improvements to CPython, the original, reference implementation of the Python programming language written in the C programming language.

“In Microsoft’s Developer Division we have a core mission of helping every developer on the planet achieve more,” said Taylor. “Python, a language with a strong emphasis on developer productivity, has been dear to our hearts and aligns closely with our mission.”

Microsoft currently has five ‘core’ developers who contribute part-time to the development of CPython: van Rossum, Brett Cannon, Steve Dower, Eric Snow, and Barry Warsaw.

The company also employs several core contributors and maintainers of key open-source projects in the Python ecosystem, including pandas, Dask, Jupyter, nteract, scikit-learn and Apache Arrow.

Microsoft’s open-source extension for Visual Studio Code is the company’s most popular extension in the company’s marketplace for developers. Microsoft has also open-sourced the Jupyter extension, the debugpy debug engine, and the pyright type checker, alongside several.

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Serverless Azure Functions runtime and the Azure Functions Python worker have also been open-sourced by the Redmond firm, as have the Azure App Service Oryx build engine and Python runtime image, the Azure CLI and the knack CLI framework, and the Azure SDK for Python.

“We believe that we should open source as much of the work we do as possible because it enables developers to have more flexibility when using our products and contributing back to the open-source community advances the state of the art for everyone,” said Taylor.

The PSF credited Microsoft for helping advance the Python tooling and ecosystem and “showing strong involvement with the Python community” through its sponsorship of events such as PyCon US, one of the world’s largest and most well-known Python developer conventions.

The Foundation said in a statement: “Microsoft helps millions of Python developers achieve more by enabling Python support across products and services like Windows, Visual Studio Code, GitHub, and Microsoft Azure.

“This year, we are excited that Microsoft is increasing their contributions to the PSF even further as a Visionary Sponsor. Microsoft’s sponsorship funds will be used to support the PSF with a focus on working with the Packaging Working Group on improving PyPI and the packaging ecosystem.” 

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