By now some of you have heard or perhaps even read articles about Microsoft joining the Linux Foundation. This includes some support from Microsoft – $500,000.00 per year. More importantly, perhaps some cross platform support.
Since Windows Azure met Suse Linux, many developers have wondered how much more cooperation might be on the horizon between these two powerhouses. The Linux community often buzzes with rumors about what might transpire if and when the developers get together. Just a few examples of what forums often consider:
- Software Inter-operability
- MySQL Servers
Meanwhile, Microsoft has incorporated a developer Bash Terminal based on Ubuntu into their latest release of updates for Windows 10. They admit to using Linux servers for some of their update servers, and they suggest that they in fact love Linux these days. Numerous open source software initiatives have received blessings and even some support from Microsoft directly.
As a person who uses both systems daily I’ve found them to both be almost necessary for at least a part of what I do. Perhaps as developers come to similar realizations there can be whole cross platform initiatives. Looking at software for example, we could some day see cross platform collaborations between:
- Microsoft Office and Libre Office
- Gimp and … Whichever Microsoft product steps up
- DirectX and OpenGL – maybe a hybrid library?
- OneDrive and (most of the Linux folks use either Google DropBox or something similar)
- Steam probably would love for both systems to have similar gaming specs
Not that anything I’ve mentioned is critical, or even likely. In truth the goals of these companies are all unique to one another and most likely they have considered and then rejected such notions, begging the question…
What Prompted This Decision By Microsoft?
To ever try to answer that we have to look at what being in the Linux Foundation actually means. It can mean (among other things) that Microsoft will have a degree of control over projects that are meaningful to their own goals. This doesn’t mean they can steer projects into the ground or even take over projects to make them serve only Microsoft. It means they can make sure that they are included in the direction a project may go – provided the Linux Foundation is involved. Remember Linux Foundation isn’t just about Linux, it is in fact about a whole assortment of open source projects as well.
What about Linux?
Knowing how Linux works is something Microsoft doesn’t need to spend any money to discover, Linux has been open source all along and with so many projects out there building new versions you can bet that if Microsoft wanted to use any part of Linux – they could do so without consequence.
So it isn’t about taking anything away, and it isn’t necessarily about giving anything over… It’s probably about being included and involved in ways that – at least potentially – put them near some of the open source innovation.
How does one discover the next wave of innovation without getting in the proverbial water?
Talking to Microsoft developers and talking to Linux developers isn’t so different. They both get very excited about what can develop out of working along with teams who have great ideas. Microsoft and Linux both have been known to make countless libraries of software available upon request to sort out issues – even for other platforms.
Not that they haven’t had their issues – but they do resolve them in their own beautiful ways
Behind the scenes both probably have at least a few jokes that reflect their preferences, but in truth neither are in direct competition in any way to seize the desktop market. A Windows user can also use Linux without affecting anyone’s bottom line. The contrary also proves true as more users have multiple machines, or even multiple operating systems on one machine, – 20 years ago that simply wasn’t common.
Calling Linux a Cancer 20 years ago made sense – if you understood how free operating systems affected the potential purchase of the next Microsoft product. Calling Linux anything other than a testament to ingenuity these days is just an example of poor understanding.
Microsoft has come a very long way, they have earned their market share with hard fought battles for scarce dollars in a failing economy. Linux fought a similar battle against ignorance and indifference in a world that seemingly couldn’t wrap their heads around trying to use anything new or different.
The results of those battles
Linux utterly dominates the world in servers and technically mobile devices – and honestly nobody can calculate correctly how many people use it on the desktop without an argument happening. Microsoft obviously dominates the desktop market in it’s special way, and of course apple has the most money… because prices and costs are abstraction when you wear turtlenecks.