How Microsoft has evolved to become an open-source champion

The relationship between the Linux’s open-source software and Microsoft has always been compared to that of the biblical story of David vs Goliath. That love-hate relationship has been ongoing since Linus Torvald released the prototype of Linux in 1991. Since Linux is a backbone that makes computer works, Microsoft’s edginess is justifiable, as it is a directly competing with Microsoft Operating System, such as those running on personal desktop and server.

The then CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer infamously described Linux as a ‘cancer’, thus it should be viewed suspiciously. As there is no face to represent Linux at that time, those that tried to adopt Linux were vigilant, as the risk can run very high if they choose to take the unfamiliar route. Why would they want to risk deploying something that might end up costing them a lot more, as no one will come to the rescue should Linux cannot deliver to their expectation.

Despite the so-called unfounded threat, Microsoft deployed various tactics to slow down the growth of Linux software. Having pushed down Netscape to the corner previously, it is not hard for Microsoft to do a similar tactic on Linux. With a commanded lead on the desktop arena, Linux’s fate was hanging by the thread. Hardware vendors such as Dell, HP and IBM remain committed to the Windows Operating System, making Linux inroad toward the desktop impossible. There is also an issue of adoption, as people have been very accustomed to the Windows suite of software, and a similar product is hard to come by on Linux.

Only when we think that Linux’s fate is sealed, we were presented with a different headline that proves otherwise today. Microsoft today seems to have embraced the open-source culture and becoming one of the vocal champions in that arena. It is very surprising to imagine how within the short period, Microsoft has made the u-turn and make open source to be the priority within the company. However, such a move is no longer a surprise, considering how far Linux has gone into the mainstream. It is no longer a hobbyist game. Linux is now a full proof software that has been adopted by many walk of life, as it is able to deliver the result needed by these users.

But how does Microsoft is actually fitting into these new evolutions? The answer lies with the change to Microsoft’s business model. As the world is moving toward IR4.0 revolution, Microsoft is banking on its cloud technology to compensate the losses made by its desktop business. A lot of organizations are moving to embrace cloud services offered by companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft. The subscription-based model is a very interesting proposition that has helped many organizations to cut their operating cost. Therefore, it is not surprising that Microsoft-owned Azure service, become a hit in the recent year. As far as Linux adoption is a concern, more than 50% of those decided to be on Azure, run Linux as the base system.

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The adoption rate is an endorsement by itself to how far Linux has evolved from its original version. It is also putting Microsoft in the spotlight, to be the champion of open-source software, something that they dare not touching with a ten-foot pole years ago. Nevertheless, this certainly a win-win situation to both parties and the consumers are now having access to the best of both worlds.

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