Microsoft is introducing a free update for its Windows 10 operating system on Monday that will help developers integrate a free, open source graphics driver into their applications.
The update is a small but significant change, but it’s a major milestone for Microsoft’s open source community, which has been the target of some of the most aggressive and vitriolic attacks from the company.
It’s a big step in that direction.
The new update, dubbed “Faster, Better, Free” (for short), will roll out automatically to users of Microsoft’s free software version of Windows 10, and it comes in two parts.
The first, called “Windows 10 Update for Developers,” will offer developers a free version of a “new open source rendering engine,” which is a software library that enables developers to easily build graphics apps using the graphics drivers Microsoft has licensed to developers.
This new engine, called OpenCL, is available for free under a license Microsoft is selling as a “non-commercial open source project.”
OpenCL is designed for use with Windows, Mac and Linux, and Microsoft said it is being used to power Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Bing Maps and the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headset.
This technology is not used in Microsoft products, however, and the company has said it has no plans to sell this technology.
Microsoft said it plans to provide more information about the “new OpenCL rendering engine” later this year, but in a blog post, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said this engine was a “big, bold step” for the company’s open-source community.
The second update will be “Windows Server 2016 Preview,” which will offer the same functionality as “Windows 2016” on a “smaller, faster” server.
This version of the update will run on “Windows Store” computers, and will also come with a new, free “Windows Insider Program,” Microsoft said.
The company said it expects to roll out this update to “most” of its users over the next few weeks, though it will not be released to users on any other devices until it reaches the end of the year.
Microsoft previously announced that it was planning to roll its free Windows 10 update out to all Windows 10 PCs in the U.S. on April 12, but its rollout was delayed by a few days, and some customers have been left out of the Windows 10 roll out.
The company announced in March that it would not be rolling out the update to the PC in China.
Nadella added that “Microsoft is making it easier to build great apps that drive more revenue, expand your business, and help us continue to serve you and your families.”
“It’s been a long, hard road to get to this point,” he said.
“But this is a big, bold move for our open source and open platform community, and we’re excited to finally deliver it.”