It appears that Microsoft is preparing the ground to bring .Net to the Mac.

The company has updated its Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) implementation (Rotor) by adding Mac OS X support to the code.

Rotor is a resource for academics and researchers to explore programming language concepts for Microsoft .Net. It is an archive of source code written in the CLI and C# programming languages.

Microsoft standard CLI is the core part of the .Net Framework for functions such as managing object creation and memory. To promote its .Net Framework, Microsoft has submitted an implementation of the C# programming language and CLI to the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

John Montgomery, Microsoft group product manager for developer platform, explained: "The main reason we have submitted the code to ISO has to do with overcoming the customer perception that Microsoft is somehow entirely built on proprietary standards."

Shared Source CLI features about 3 million lines of code and is available for researchers and academics. The software can be used for non-commercial purposes; however, what it can do is quite limited, observers say.

All in Shared Source CLI features source code for an implementation of CLI to run on Windows XP, Free BSD, and Mac OS X; compilers to work with the Shared Source CLI for C#; development tools; documentation; sample code; and test suites.

Rotor also contains a Platform Layer for porting Shared Source CLI from Windows XP to FreeBSD and Mac OS X.

.Net currently exists as a development environment. It forms a major part of Microsoft's growth strategy. It promises to integrate advanced Web services with personal computing.

The release of Mac OS X support suggests that Microsoft is already working to ensure Mac OS X machines can act as .Net clients, at the very least.