Microsoft listed for first time on Linux kernel developer list

The idea that Microsoft, the creators of the Windows OS, would ever be listed as a contributor to an open source operating system would have sounded foolish even a few years ago. However, it seems that Microsoft has decided to embrace the open source software movement more publicly in recent years.

This week, the Linux Foundation released its annual Linux development report and made a special note of the fact that, for the first time ever, Microsoft is listed as a contributor to the ongoing development of the Linux kernel. The report states:

Ranking at number 17, the company that once called Linux a “cancer,” today is working within the collaborative development model to support its virtualization efforts and its customers. Because Linux has reached a state of ubiquity, in which both the enterprise and mobile computing markets are relying on the operating system, Microsoft is clearly working to adapt.

The "cancer" reference goes back to 2001 in a statement made by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer when he said in an interview, "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."

In addition to Linux, Microsoft has also supported other open source projects such as the Internet mapping group OpenStreetMap that is now taking a little market share away from Google Maps.

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26 Comments

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dotf said,
Now, if only MS would release an open source implementation of Homegroup......

Home users have linux devices too MS.


1% of home users have Linux devices.
There are literally hundreds of features that would benefit more than 1% of Windows users.

Aethec said,

1% of home users have Linux devices.
There are literally hundreds of features that would benefit more than 1% of Windows users.

Oh I can bet you that far more than 1% of home users have Linux on something, ranging from set top boxes like Boxee Box to mobile devices like Android phones

Torvalds said this at the time MS wrote these Hyper-V drivers:

Linus Torvalds
I'm a big believer in "technology over politics". I don't care who it comes from, as long as there are solid reasons for the code, and as long as we don't have to worry about licensing etc issues.

I may make jokes about Microsoft at times, but at the same time, I think the Microsoft hatred is a disease. I believe in open development, and that very much involves not just making the source open, but also not shutting other people and companies out.

There are 'extremists' in the free software world, but that's one major reason why I don't call what I do 'free software' any more. I don't want to be associated with the people for whom it's about exclusion and hatred."


Excellent analysis IMHO.

Aethec said,
Torvalds said this at the time MS wrote these Hyper-V drivers:

Excellent analysis IMHO.

A sound man. After all, he doesn't have to prove himself to a board of suits

I love Ballmers hypocricacy levels, cant ever see beyond the tip of his own nose! Good job steering Microsoft into a round-about!

This makes a lot of sense for Microsoft. By working with Linux, they can make sure that their other products can communicate and network better, etc. I'm glad to see Microsoft supporting open source more. It doesn't make sense to ignore it.

M_Lyons10 said,
This makes a lot of sense for Microsoft. By working with Linux, they can make sure that their other products can communicate and network better, etc. I'm glad to see Microsoft supporting open source more. It doesn't make sense to ignore it.

It's a shame it took a big fine from the EU to force Microsoft to open up its protocols. It's a two way street. Hopefully Microsoft will be more open in the future.

Wasn't Microsoft's hand forced to contribute openly as this is directly related to HyperV drivers that contained GPL code that Microsoft originally distributed as binary only? Thats until they were caught.

ShMaunder said,
Wasn't Microsoft's hand forced to contribute openly as this is directly related to HyperV drivers that contained GPL code that Microsoft originally distributed as binary only? Thats until they were caught.

That's part of it, but most of the contributions that Microsoft make to Linux are Hyper-V compatibility related (even the ones that weren't forced). Ideally, Microsoft would prefer not to contribute, but Linux is a major player in the server space and can't just be ignored, therefore they're required to play nice to sell their product.

ShMaunder said,
Wasn't Microsoft's hand forced to contribute openly as this is directly related to HyperV drivers that contained GPL code that Microsoft originally distributed as binary only? Thats until they were caught.

Yes that's true. Their GPLv2 HyperV code was linking to static binary blobs, and mixing GPL and binary code violates the licence. It was resolved eventually though and now all their code is GPLv2'd.

Steve Ballmer generally doesn't think much of his speeches trough. Linux might spread like a cancer but it is used in many forms and really changed the market. Microsoft was foolish to see it as a competitor, happily they know that now.

Renvy said,
Microsoft was foolish to see it as a competitor, happily they know that now.

But they are a competitor or is that a typo? They both distribute and maintain kernels that can be run on the same hardware architectures and in many cases, normally for the same (or similar) end goal. One is chosen over the other due to its features, pricing, security and support. If thats not a competitor than I'm not sure what one is.

Renvy said,
Steve Ballmer generally doesn't think much of his speeches trough. Linux might spread like a cancer but it is used in many forms and really changed the market. Microsoft was foolish to see it as a competitor, happily they know that now.

Actually in this case, they're contributing because Linux IS a competitor/customer requirement, and one they can't ignore... as much as they'd prefer to.

ShMaunder said,

But they are a competitor or is that a typo? They both distribute and maintain kernels that can be run on the same hardware architectures and in many cases, normally for the same (or similar) end goal. One is chosen over the other due to its features, pricing, security and support. If thats not a competitor than I'm not sure what one is.

The market share of Linux is so small, that Microsoft at least for the next 10 years has nothing to fear of Linux. To collaborate is sometimes smarter then to compete. Microsoft also helped Apple when they were bankrupt and they have benefited from that allot.

Renvy said,
Microsoft was foolish to see it as a competitor, happily they know that now.

If Ballmer/Microsoft could kill GNU/Linux today, they would, but they can't. They're still trying though, with patent litigation against companies that deploy Linux (TomTom, Android manufacturers), to funding shell companies that attack it directly and smearing competitors (SCO, ICOMP).
There's an interesting article about that:
http://falkvinge.net/2012/03/0...o-smear-google-audaciously/

Linux now has a billion dollar company behind it (Red Hat), as well as support from IBM, Google, Intel, Samsung, and many others. Microsoft had no choice in the server market but to add support for Linux virtualisation or face irrelevance as more and more enterprise customers demand it, and in the end, money talks.

Edited by simplezz, Apr 4 2012, 12:56pm :

simplezz said,

If Ballmer/Microsoft could kill GNU/Linux today, they would,

I'm not sure they would. OSX and Linux serve a purpose. Without them MS would be in control of a monopoly and there would be a lot of presure for it to be regulated.

Renvy said,
The market share of Linux is so small, that Microsoft at least for the next 10 years has nothing to fear of Linux..

The market share of linux in the server and virtualization world has microsoft afraid.
Their enterprise customers demand linux virtualization on windows, so Microsoft had to comply, or lose even more share in a market where it's already very difficult to compete.

Sacha said,
Well he was sort of right. It spreads on purpose through its licence and the ideology behind it.

It spreads the freedom to use the code. I don't see that as a bad thing. Everyone then benefits from any changes made. It makes a refreshing difference to the proprietary model where everyone is working in isolated teams.

That's why I love Linux, GNU, and free open source software. The community spirit is wonderful. It would be nice if that collaborative and sharing ideology could be applied to the rest of the world.

simplezz said,

It spreads the freedom to use the code. I don't see that as a bad thing. Everyone then benefits from any changes made. It makes a refreshing difference to the proprietary model where everyone is working in isolated teams.

That's why I love Linux, GNU, and free open source software. The community spirit is wonderful. It would be nice if that collaborative and sharing ideology could be applied to the rest of the world.

That's why I like the internet, EVERYTHING is free, and even if it's closed source, you can still see exactly how they did it. lol