Redmond View

Will the Microsoft Open Source Odyssey Extend to Windows?

While the notion would have been ludicrous in years past, experts are hinting that an open source Windows could be a possibility down the road.

Every time Microsoft takes a new step toward embracing open source, the company raises eyebrows. The reaction ranges from high praise to cackles of suspicion. Yet Microsoft's first major step to embrace the Linux community dates back to 2007 when it partnered with Novell (now SUSE), and created its Interoperability

Council in 2010. Despite its various efforts, critics have had a hard time getting past former CEO Steve Ballmer's warning that Linux was a cancer and that it was fit for communists.

Microsoft's incremental embrace of the open source community has culminated with last year's announcement that it would contribute the famed proprietary .NET Framework including its Visual Studio tooling and last fall's pact to support Linux-based Docker containers in Windows and Microsoft Azure. Microsoft says 20 percent of server instances running in the Azure cloud are Linux-based.

So when Wired Business Editor Cade Metz, during a panel discussion he moderated at last month's ChefConf, asked Azure CTO Mark Russinovich if Microsoft would ever consider opening Windows, the response made headlines. "It's definitely possible," Russinovich responded to an audience of open source purists. "It's a new Microsoft."

Whether Microsoft goes that route, many in the open source community are still suspicious of the company, which is why Russinovich and the likes of Windows PowerShell inventor Jeffrey Snover are trying to make their case. At least for some it's working. "To me it's powerful, as an open source advocate, to watch them make that transformation," said Facebook Systems Engineer and longtime outspoken Microsoft critic Phil Dibowitz, who was on the open source panel discussion with Metz and Russinovich. "It makes me super excited."

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

Featured

  • Malwarebytes Affirms Other APT Attack Methods Used Besides 'Solorigate'

    Security solutions company Malwarebytes affirmed on Monday that alternative methods besides tainted SolarWinds Orion software were used in the recent "Solorigate" advanced persistent threat (APT) attacks.

  • How To Fix the Hyper-V Read Only Disk Problem

    DOS might seem like a relic now, but sometimes it's the only way to fix a problem that Windows seems ill-equipped to deal with -- like this one.

  • Microsoft Warns IT Pros on Windows Netlogon Fix Coming Next Month

    Microsoft on Thursday issued a reminder to organizations to ensure that their systems are properly patched for a "Critical"-rated Windows Netlogon vulnerability before next month's "update Tuesday" patch distribution arrives.

  • Microsoft Nudging Skype for Business Users to Teams

    Microsoft on Thursday announced some perks and prods for Skype for Business unified communications users, with the aim of moving them to the Microsoft Teams collaboration service instead.

comments powered by Disqus