30 October 2014

Why Microsoft loves Linux

Summary: Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer may have hated Linux, but new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says Microsoft loves Linux. What changed Microsoft's mind?

By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source |  October 29, 2014 -- 19:44 GMT (12:44 PDT). Source: ZDNet.

Some things don't go together: Cats and dogs, New York Yankee and Boston Red Sox fans, Linux and Windows... or do they? In San Francisco, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, and I quote, "Microsoft loves Linux."


That's a heck of a long way from Steve Ballmer proclaiming back in 2001 that "Linux is a cancer." In the years since then Microsoft certainly attacked Linux like it was a cancer — doing everything from sponsoring SCO's copyright attack on Linux to claiming that Linux violated unnamed Microsoft patents to endless FUD assaults.

So, how did we get from Linux as Microsoft enemy number one to "love"?

Nadella actually told us the heart of the story, which I can boil down to that classic detective approach: "Follow the money."

Nadella told Wired that he's not interested in fighting old battles — especially, when, like it or not, Linux has become a vital part of today's business technology. "If you don’t jump on the new,” he said, you don’t survive."

There's nothing new about Linux, which at 22 is old enough to drink. But two things are new: First, Microsoft's fortunes now lie not with the desktop or desktop programs, but with its Azure cloud and cloud-based programs such as Office 365. Second, Linux, even on the Azure cloud, is used by businesses large and small.