Microsoft: Open Source Windows Is 'Definitely Possible'

Microsoft's Mark Russinovich commented that a future version of Windows could be open source.

The comment by the Azure CTO was made during a panel on Wednesday at ChefConf 2015 in Santa Clara, Calif. Fielding a question on whether Microsoft is considering making Windows an open sourced platform, Russinovich said it was "definitely possible."

"It's a new Microsoft," said Russinovich. "Literally every conversation you can imagine about what should we do with our software: open, not open, services. It's happened."

While the comments made by the high-ranking Microsoft chief could sound promising for those wanting Windows to follow in the open source footsteps of other OSes like Linux and Ubuntu, don't expect the possible new direction to come anytime soon. "We have not made any open source policy or business model changes for Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a comment to VentrueBeat.

As Microsoft celebrates its 40th birthday this weekend, the company, under the helm of Satya Nadella, is willing to try new strategies and change policies that worked in the past to stay relevant in today's market, according to Russinovich.  His comments could indicate a willingness to embrace change more than it being confirmation of the company's current strategy with Windows.

"Once we started to look deeply at why are we operating the way we are, what has been holding us back, let's change," said Russinovich. That kind of opened the floodgates that you see us now going everywhere with open source. It's no longer taboo. It's actually encouraged in many places."

Microsoft's push into the open source territory has recently been highlighted by December's announcement that its full server-side .NET Core stack would be able to run cross platform and its support for open source Docker containers on Windows Server.          And with the company's approach to allowing users of Windows 7 and 8.x to upgrade to Windows 10 for free is a strong indication that Microsoft is willing to change its OS model to meet today's demands and embrace an open source approach to Windows -- a notion that seemed far fetched during the Gates era.

"That's the reality we live in today," said Russinovich. "The tech world has changed in enormous ways. So many companies -- so many Microsoft customers -- are now relying on open source code. And that means Microsoft must embrace it too."

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for and


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