|Is Microsoft embracing communism?|
|Wednesday, 22 July 2009 06:58|
We all remember the classy quotes that Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has quipped over the years, gems like "Linux is Communism" or "Linux a cancer", so imagine my surprise today as I browsed the net and came across the hot topic for the day that Microsoft had just released 20,000 lines of source code into the Linux kernel. And it's under the GPL 2.0 to boot, the license that Microsoft has lovingly described as "Viral".
So what's going on here? Are Linux and the GPL no longer the plague? What could have brought about Microsoft's sudden change of heart?
Theories having been flying around the net all day. Amongst the more popular theories are that this is part of Microsoft's classic embrace, extend, extinguish strategy or that they are trying to riddle Linux with submarine patents that they can use to beat open source users into submission down the track.
I think it's something much simpler: competition.
Yes, that fabled creature that hasn't been seen or heard in over 15 years in the mainstream computer industry, might finally be rising from it's slumber. The first hint of it's return was Microsoft's back-down on retiring Windows XP followed by the subsequent drastic price cuts to netbook OEMs that has temporarily slowed the advance of alternatives.
The driver code that was released is intended to improve the performance of virtualised Linux on a Windows server. Microsoft is no fan of interoperability, so this can't be an altruistic move, especially considering their previous stance on Linux and the GPL. The only plausible explanation is that enough of Microsoft's customers have been threatening to or are actually using virtualised Linux that they have no choice but to support it if they want to remain relevant. The Microsoft press release admits as much, but spins it as though Microsoft is helping their customers in advance of change rather than responding to change that is being forced upon them.
Now that Microsoft has started adding code into Linux to enhance interoperability, I'm sure they wouldn't mind receiving a few patches in return. How about a little code to fix all the trouble they've obviously been having writing a working ODF module for Office?blog comments powered by Disqus