No, you didn’t read that title wrong! The Redmond giant has recently joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member. This means that Microsoft will be donating US $500,000 to the Linux Foundation annually. Microsoft will also have a vote in the election of the Linux Foundation’s board of directors.
Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie announced during Microsoft’s annual Connect(); developer event that â€œWe want to help developers achieve more and capitalize on the industryâ€™s shift toward cloud-first and mobile-first experiences using the tools and platforms of their choice. By collaborating with the community to provide open, flexible and intelligent tools and cloud services, weâ€™re helping every developer deliver unprecedented levels of innovation.â€
Microsoft writes on its news site: “As part of its effort to work more closely with the open source community, Microsoft on Wednesday announced it has joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member. Microsoftâ€™s membership in the Linux Foundation will benefit customers through increased collaboration and innovation among a diverse ecosystem.”
In that same news article, Microsoft has also announced a Macintosh OS X port of Visual Studio, a public preview of their SQL Server for GNU/Linux, and a preview of Azure App Service for GNU/Linux, with support for containers (I’m not going to pretend to know what “containers” are).
In an OMG!Ubuntu! article, writer Joey-Elijah Sneddon hinted at the possibility of Microsoft joining the Linux Foundation for not-so-noble purposes, though he did so in a dismissive fashion, without going into details about what Microsoft might have planned. He also mentioned the likely hood of the phrase “embrace, extend and extinguish” being recited by not-so-trusting individuals.
In my opinion, the phrase “Embrace, extend and extinguish” seems like a good representation of an all-too-likely motivation for a not-so-good company like Microsoft. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to extend their controversial telemetry services to GNU/Linux systems, just to say "Linux is spyware. Use Windows.’
On the other hand, Microsoft has contributed to the open source software community in the past. Sneddon described Microsoft as “a leading contributor on Github”, adding that Microsoft had previously “bought, and subsequently open-sourced, Xamarin”. Microsoft has also open-sourced some (or maybe all, I’m not sure) of their .Net platform, allowing .Net apps to be created and used within the open source community. On top of which, they recently introduced a new Windows 10 subsystem, which allows users to run Ubuntu apps using source code derived from Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr” itself.
Ultimately, whether or not Microsoft intends to do the Free Software and Open Source Software communities more good than bad remains to be seen.
PS: Microsoft now allows you to update Ubuntu’s codebase to 16.04 Xenial Xerus on Windows 10, starting with build 14936. You can upgrade an existing instance using the same do-release-upgrade command that is used to upgrade non-Windows Ubuntu systems. When creating new Windows/Ubuntu instances, 16.04 will be used by default. Apparently, this has been the case since October, so I guess this won’t come as news to some of you.