Sponsored By

Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, After Calling Linux a 'Cancer'

Microsoft previously hated open source, but has since become a strong contributor to open source communities.

Mitch Wagner

November 16, 2016

3 Min Read
Microsoft Joins Linux Foundation, After Calling Linux a 'Cancer'

More than a decade after then-CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux a "cancer" and "Communism" Microsoft has joined the Linux Foundation, ponying up for top-tier, Platinum membership.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced its membership during the Microsoft Connect developer conference in New York on Wednesday, according to a statement from the two organizations.

Once a staunch foe of open source, Microsoft now supports the technology, contributing code to GitHub, open sourcing .NET Core 1.0, partnering with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10, working with FreeBSD on an Azure image, and open sourcing the Xamarin development kit after acquiring that company. Microsoft also works with companies including Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), SUSE Inc. and others to support their products, according to the statement. Microsoft contributes to Linux Foundation projects including Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight , Open Container Initiative, R Consortium and Open API Initiative.

That's a big change for Microsoft. In a 2001 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Ballmer said Linux and the open source movement are "good competition" that would "force Microsoft to be innovative" but said Linux is "a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." The Register had more at the time. The original Sun-Times article appears to be offline.

Ballmer compared the Linux community to Communism in 2000.

Fast-forward to today, and Microsoft now supports Linux on Azure, and says more Linux VMs are being created on Azure than Windows Server VMs. (See Why Microsoft Azure?)

Mike Schultz, Microsoft GP cloud platform product marketing, told Light Reading this year that Microsoft has had to embrace open source because customers demand it. (See Microsoft: Open Source Means Meeting Customers Where They Are.)

This month, the company announced Project Olympus, an open source hyperscale hardware design with a new model for speeding development of open source hardware. (See Microsoft Lights a Fire Under Open Source Hardware Dev.)

Are you a service provider executive who wants to learn more about the impact of web-scale competition on the communications sector? Join us for Light Reading's third annual 2020 Vision Executive Summit taking place in Rome, December 6-8. Contact our events team to find out if you qualify for a VIP pass.

As for Ballmer: He said in March that he now sees Linux and open source as a force for good, though he stands by his earlier statements as appropriate for the time and situation when they were made.

Ballmer served as CEO of Microsoft 2000 through 2014, when he was replaced by current CEO Satya Nadella.

Related posts:

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

Read more about:

Europe

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like