The company is putting some bitter battles behind it
In a remarkable shift from their position of 15 years ago, Microsoft has now decided to join the Linux Foundation.
Microsoft Azure’s John Grossman will sit on the foundation’s board, according to a press release. (Azure App Service supports Linux, of course.) The move is a culmination of several of greater open source collaboration among partners, with Microsoft already participating in multiple foundation projects like Open AI.
As Ars Technica put it, “Microsoft, the company that has built an empire on proprietary, closed-source software, has joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member.” It is a sea change for a company that fought long and hard the previous decade against Linux and open sourcing at large.
In 2001, its then-CEO infamously dubbed Linux a “cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.” Though this was the argument the company made in 2001, in 2016 it is a different story – even though as recently as 2009, the foundation and the tech company were at odds on patents.
Even the executive who said it, Steve Ballmer, eventually toned down his criticism by the time, in 2012, when Microsoft ported SQL to Linux. (He still maintains that his opposition was necessary for the company, in the lean years of the mid-2000s, but that the matter is now in the past.) The Linux Foundation, though, generally hoped to do more with Microsoft all through this period despite the gap between them, reports PC World.
The change began even before Ballmer resigned in favor of current CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft actually started work for the open sourcing of its .Net Framework, which allows developers to code software across multiple programming languages as the Common Language Infrastructure standard, in 2011. Nadella, of course, was in favor of the move even then before he became Microsoft’s CEO in 2014. Microsoft, according to ZDNet earlier this year, came to realize that competitiveness partly depended on not having to twice-build apps and a shift to the cloud and service products in place of its proprietary Windows OS.
The Linux Foundation was established in 2007 by the merger of two laboratories in order to further research and development of the Linux OS by top programmers, while bringing together members to better confront emerging technical and legal issues together.