In what many will consider shocking news Microsoft has not only been on a path of embracing Linux, but now they have joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member, as reported by TechCrunch. To me this news is not at all surprising, as Microsoft has been making friendly overtures towards open source for the last few years, not only contributing to many Open Source projects, but releasing some of its once propriety code to the Open Source community, which they have been slowly doing for over a decade, but only recently have they been taking it seriously. In recent months they have also collaborated with Canonical, makers of Ubuntu, to include some Linux functionality right inside of Windows. In addition to this there has been a concerted push to get Microsoft products onto other platforms, including its SQL Server, Visual Studio for Mac, and Office mobile for Android to name a few.
I would definitely stop short of saying that Microsoft lowering the walls on the gardens in Redmond is altruistic, I certainly don’t believe it is, and any advancement to society or computing is simply a byproduct of making a good business decision. That is not to say that we should not embrace the new goodwill that Microsoft is showing to the Open Source community, but we should be wary of believing there is any motivation besides making Microsoft more profitable. In today’s market it just makes good business sense, in many cases, to do Open Source. Another benefit for Microsoft is in that by contributing to open source projects they can ensure that their interests are represented within that community, such as ensuring compatibility with their Azure cloud platform and .NET.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella seems to me a man who gets it, or is at least trying to. There is going to be other software providers and other operating systems, some of these products may be better than your own, or at least more appealing. It makes good business sense to not only stop fighting them, but to embrace them, to make sure that your products and solutions are available to the widest possible customer base. I am cautiously optimistic about this new approach at Microsoft, hopefully their actions really do contribute to the advancement of Open Source.