Microsoft and Linux: Hate to Love

Ballmer must be turning in his grave bed. That was Microsoft CEO had no hesitation in declaring in 2001 that “Linux is a cancer”. He did so to criticize the performance of the GPL, and that became the definitive proof that Microsoft and Linux not got along well. They were times of hatred.

It has the story changed. The role of Linux in the server segment It has made the own Microsoft to change its discourse and your attitude to this operating system and all the FLOSS (Free/Libre and Open Source Software) in general, and today we have obvious demonstration that the Outlook is clearly different. They are times of love.

With Nadella changed the tide

It is likely that much of what has happened at Microsoft in this area (as in many others) is a consequence of the change of CEO: the arrival of Satya Nadella It has brought new life to a company whose mentality has changed significantly. The own Nadella explained it in an interview of 2014: “I don’t want to fight old battles, I want to fight a new battle”.

The CEO of Microsoft admitting how Linux had become an essential part of the way in which companies implanted their businesses online, so the Redmond company has had the success of approaching an opponent who has now ceased to be, or that at least it is not it in equal measure that was years ago.

The cloud computing He is main responsible of many of these changes: the success of the great services that proposed giant like Amazon or Google based on Open Source solutions has made the Microsoft – Azure – cloud platform put you eyes to Linux and Open Source long.

The Redmond company has had the wisdom of approaching an opponent who has now ceased to be

The last shows that love of Linux saw this week, when Microsoft announced that it would begin offering support for SQL Server on Linux, something which was viewed with scepticism by some analysts – whose arguments were offset-, but that once again reinforced this new philosophy of Microsoft. You know. If you can not with the enemy and all that.

That announcement has not come only. Yesterday, we learned how Microsoft has created an Open Source operating system based on Debian which has called SONiC. As you hear it. Or almost, because the operating system is not a Linux distribution for the desktop, but an operating system intended for switches, those boxes which enter and leave Ethernet cables everywhere and which are one of the key elements of network infrastructure of any data center that boasts.

Microsoft aims to Open Source philosophy (more or less)

The project is in reality because of the role that Microsoft is playing in the Open Compute Project (OCP), an initiative promoted by Facebook in 2011 that tries to make that hardware manufacturers provide specifications and standards open on their computers in network so all kinds of organizations, companies and entities can buy these devices and adapt them to your needs in the way they deem appropriate. It is one commitment to freedom in the network infrastructure it contrasts with the traditional practice of many manufacturers who based their products and business models in device hardware and proprietary hardware solutions.

Microsoft talking about Linux and “openness”. How times change.

This is another of those many examples of a change in mentality that Nadella appears to have taken an astonishing naturally but that certainly is not married with that image of Microsoft as defender company wishful thinking of their proprietary standards and a quite closed development model. No mistake: Microsoft is protecting its closed to swashbuckling philosophy, but that has not prevented that you open any other window – pun intended – to developments and Open Source philosophy.

No mistake: Microsoft is protecting its closed to swashbuckling philosophy

It has in fact become member company of consortia involved in standards such as the mentioned OCP opening, but also in projects of fashion like Hadoop or Docker. There have been ads especially outstanding in this field as the opening to the Open Source .NET, all a hit for the development community who saw how good at first were the Core of this platform on GitHub, something unthinkable years ago.

Developers of the world, unite

This repository of projects for developers has become basic not only for Microsoft but for other big technology, and there is possible to find some outstanding projects released to Open Source as ChakraCore – the javascript engine of Microsoft Edge – or parts which have been freed of its suite of development, Visual Studio, such as Visual Studio Code. It’s funny that Microsoft also He has admitted the relevance This platform for management of development projects when time providing your CodePlex with the same objective.

Also it has elucubrado on the assumption of a Windows Open Source, an edition that it would cause a radical change in the model of Microsoft and that Microsoft as Mark Russinovich engineers qualified “absolutely possible”. The launch of Windows 10 and all that universal and convergent platform They point to another address, Since then: the intentions of Microsoft regarding their management of software has been highly criticized by gurus in the world of videogames as a Tim Sweeney. Although there are arguments that support Microsoft’s strategy – others believe that in this Microsoft isn’t much worse than Google and certainly Apple – the truth is that this potential Open Source Windows version now seems even more improbable.

There are many more initiatives to ‘build bridges between Microsoft technologies and technologies no-Microsoft’

The opening of Open Source projects has not stopped in recent months, and in fact this new trend of releasing artificial intelligence engines also He has finished convincing Microsoft, shortly after the publication of that article released CNTK, its framework for the development of solutions in which the artificial intelligence is an integral part – they put sample Cortana and Skype Translate -.

There are many more initiatives to “build bridges between Microsoft technologies and technologies no-Microsoft”, as indicated on its web site Microsoft Open Technologies – that it will soon integrate with general web site – and the examples are numerous: connectors between SQL Server and Hadoop, plugins for Eclipse with Java for Azure, installers of MongoDB to Azure, support for Node.js, participation in projects open as Apache Cordova WebRTC or HTTP/2.0 specification and other variety of projects that demonstrate again This new mentality in which Microsoft is no longer “neither with you nor, without you”, but simply “with all”.

If someone loves Linux, that is Azure

As we said before, love that Microsoft seems to profess currently Linux has cloud to their particular Cupid. The launch of Azure was one of the most important efforts for a company that had dominated with solvency enterprise computing. Suddenly no longer so: though jobs were still yours thanks to Office, the services began to escape from the fingers of Microsoft.

Their proprietary solutions in the area of platforms and servers – Windows, Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint, IIS and a long etcetera – suddenly lost whole front of a batch of Open Source solutions that were gradually imposing itself on the market. Red Hat very well took these services boom to become one of the few patents that you can make money (and much) with Open Source, and the rise of the Cloud Computing landscape forever changed. Suddenly Linux and Open Source had more sense than ever in those environments.

When Microsoft launched Azure in October 2008 did so with the mindset “we stew it us, we eat it”. The platform, in fact, was born as Windows Azure, which made it clear that it was intended to provide Microsoft solutions for the cloud. The approach would change in 2012, when Microsoft realized that It was losing a large segment of the market for not making him the ball to Linux.

Said and done: began support for Linux virtual machines that would gradually increase and that would end up with another sign that times had changed. In April of 2015 changed the name of the platform, which was now going to be “Microsoft Azure”. About Windows was left by the road as apparent proof that focusing solely on Microsoft solutions in their cloud services was not to the liking of many CTOs and system administrators who saw this an obstacle to contemplate Azure as an option.

These changes were further consolidated with the introduction of Azure Cloud Switch announced in September and that as we said has finished leading to the development of SONiC. That was actually a step in a stand that for example was reinforced in October 2014, when Nadella announced inter alia core support – a Linux distribution focused on working with Docker – and that of Cloudera, leader in business analytics and data management systems.

Azure approach would change in 2012, when Microsoft realized that was losing a large segment of the market for not making him the ball to Linux.

One year later, in November, come the definitive agreement: “Red Hat came to an agreement with Microsoft to provide combined solutions by leveraging Azure and consolidated that bet by Microsoft that had definitely demonstrated his love (or maybe need for love) by Linux.” Remember, “Microsoft ♥ Linux” “they told us the Windows Server blog responsible for less than a year ago”.

In fact, they supported also in Microsoft a year ago, 20% of the operating systems used in Azure are Linux. It is likely that after the agreement with Red Hat that percentage increase, although core, CentOS, Oracle Linux, SUSE and Ubuntu were already supported in the Microsoft cloud platform. The thing was especially interesting when in 2012 appeared the report of contributions to the Linux kernel and Microsoft turned out to be among the five companies that had more contributed. This prominent role – probably due to the support of distributions in its Hyper-V virtualization technology – was diluted in the following years, and for example in the report from The Linux Foundation of last year Microsoft did not appear anywhere. That gave equal, because the work was done.

At least, that work in particular. What is clear is that many things are changing in Microsoft. Obviously by necessity, of course, but we we are pleased by this.

Update: November 16, 2016 Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation, and updated the article with this paragraph end to reflect this

Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation

This progressive love of Microsoft for Linux and the Open Source world has been consolidated with its the Linux Foundation as Platinum member membership, news that according to Jim Zemlin, President of this body, will make that “Microsoft can better collaborate with community Open Source to provide transforming experiences in mobile and cloud to more people”.

Scott Guthrie, Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise Group at Microsoft, Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation President at the Conference salutes Connect(); held in November 2016.

The commitment of Microsoft is checked with the launch of Visual Studio for Mac (although a derived Xamarin Studio environment, and not a version of Visual Studio itself) and above all with a previous edition of SQL Server for the first time, it is available for Linux.

In the presentation of Microsoft as a new Member of the Linux Foundation is It highlighted its activity in projects like Node.js, Foundation, R Consortium, OpenDayLight or the Open Container Initiative. The recent emergence of certifications Linux for Azure and solutions of user as the mentioned possibility of using Bash and Ubuntu in Windows demonstrate this commitment according to Zemlin.

It recognized that this again shows “that the company It is evolving and maturing with the technology industry”. Developing Open Source software is key for all types of infrastructure, said the head of the Foundation, who believes that the membership of Microsoft is especially good for the Open Source community.