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Microsoft’s power move: open sourcing Edge’s Javascript engine

If you’ve been paying attention to Microsoft over the last year, you’ve probably noticed that the company has changed its attitude toward the open-source community in a huge way. In just the past few months the company has open sourced its code editor, Visual Studio’s code building tool, a video standard and more. Today, it’s taking that one leap further and open sourcing ChakraCore, the JavaScript engine behind the new Edge browser included with Windows 10.

Chakra is the engine used to execute JavaScript that was developed from scratch in 2008 and has the most compatibility with the ECMAScript 6 standard over other engines, including Google’s V8. While Chakra is at the core of only the Edge browser, it s used across Windows 10 to power Universal Applications on Xbox, Windows Phone, and tablets. ChakraCore, which will be made available on GitHub within the month, is a self-contained JavaScript virtual machine that the company now allows developers to implement inside their own products.

 

It only contains the ‘core packages’ for the engine, so does not expose Chakra’s private bindings to Edge or Universal Applications or make available a COM API for diagnosis. Beginning in January 2016 Microsoft will allow external developers to contribute to the project via pull requests on GitHub and more details on how to collaborate will be shared at that time. It’s an interesting — and impressive move — for Microsoft, a company that has historically kept its code under wraps and rarely open sourced projects. Google open sourced its rendering engine, V8, many years ago and has seen great success with community collaboration on the project, as well as its adoption in other browsers and application stacks.

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