Perhaps the biggest change at Microsoft under its gentler, more collaborative CEO Satya Nadella is the focus on cloud computing instead of Windows.
Simply put, if Microsoft’s customers choose Microsoft’s cloud, it doesn’t matter what software they run on it, even if that software is an operating system that competes with Windows like Linux.
Years ago, under former CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft tried to squash Linux, saying it violated Microsoft’s patents and threatening to sue Linux vendors as well as Linux users. The remnants of that battle still exist today. Microsoft has wrangled patent licence agreements from nearly every device maker that chose the free and open source Linux, or its derivative, Android.
Even so, under Nadella, Microsoft has slowly supported more and more Linux technologies, because it would rather it’s customers use Microsoft’s cloud and Linux, than choose another cloud (like Amazon) for their Linux apps.
The change to support Linux at Microsoft has been long and slow: Microsoft has partnered with top Linux software makers, contributed directly to the development of Linux, even added support for a favourite Linux development tool, Bash, to Windows 10.
And earlier this week, at the LinuxCon tech Conference in Vancouver, Microsoft said it would be moving its PowerShell tool to Linux, too. PowerShell is a scripting language that lets IT professionals automate a lot of tasks in their Windows environments. Microsoft is now working on a version that lets them use PowerShell to run their Linux servers, too.
While Nadella has long insisted that “Microsoft loves Linux” with this newest round of announcements, Microsoft has apparently earned the interest of Linus Torvalds in return.
Torvalds created Linux and is still its primary keeper. He’s also one of the most revered software developers in the world and a guy that doesn’t coddle, doesn’t pull punches.
He is commonly quoted as saying, “If Microsoft ever does applications for Linux it means I’ve won.”
Here he is hanging out, smiling, chatting and posing for photo ops with the Microsoft team at their booth at LinuxCon.
It certainly looks like he’s won.