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.