Why Did Microsoft Invest $500,000 in Lin­ux Foundation?


Microsoft recently announced at its Connect(); 2016 event that it’s joining the Linux Foundation as a platinum member, the highest tier of membership in the Foundation, which will cost them $500,000 annually.

Microsoft Loves Linux

The Linux Foundation was started in 2000, is a non-profit tech group which focusses on accelerating open technology development and commercial adoption. Currently, the foundation provides tools, training and events to improve any open source project, not just limited to Linux.

This might come as a surprise to many of you, but Microsoft has been working with Linux since 2009.

Since then, they’ve been monitoring Linux and UNIX, and also have contributed to projects like Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight, Open Container initiative, R Consortium and Open API initiative.

Linux has been a sizable commitment for Microsoft for some time now, but their relation is garnering a higher public profile since the company became a member of the Linux Foundation.

“Microsoft is already a substantial participant in many open source projects and has been involved in open source communities through partnerships and technology contributions for several years. Microsoft has demonstrated time and again that the company is evolving and maturing with the technology industry,” Jim Zemlin, Executive Director at Linux Foundation stated.

Connect 2016

Following this new membership, Microsoft is going to collaborate with the open-source community to improve user experience on mobile and cloud technology.

Microsoft has taken heed to the users’ suggestions to improve their products better and will work towards heterogeneous support both on Windows and Linux platforms. This partnership is going to beneficial to the open source community as well as the end-users of the products of these communities.

The software giant had already been offering its products such as Office365, Skype and RDP clients on devices running Linux-based operating system as well as BSD-based operating systems.

“Membership is an important step for Microsoft, but it’s perhaps bigger news for the open source community, which will benefit from the company’s sustained contributions. I look forward to updating you over time on progress resulting from this relationship,” Jim Zemlin added.

Following the open-sourcing of .Net in 2014 and of Visual Studio Code editor in 2015, a platinum membership seems the right way to go for the software giants. This way, they are also defying skeptics who feel that Microsoft, a largely closed-source software maker, is interested in joining the open-source space just for PR sake.

Over the past few years, Microsoft has also brought SQL servers to Linux, partnered with Red Hat, SUSE and built Ubuntu distribution into Windows 10, among various other projects.

Other members of the Linux Foundation include Amazon, Cisco, eBay, Facebook, Google, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle and Red Hat.

John Gossman, an architect on the Microsoft Azure core team, will get a seat on the Board of Directors at the Foundation.

Microsoft handing over a sizeable cheque worth half a million dollars to the Linux Foundation comes as a shock to many as the software giant’s former CEO, Steve Ballmer, famously remarked over 15 years ago that ‘Linux is cancer’ and established his dislike for the open-source software.

The main of goal of Microsoft remains to serve users working across cross-platforms with ease and collaborating with open-source communities which can help a product improve manifold within a short span of time is an added advantage, both for the company and the end-user.

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.