This wouldn't have happened if Steve Ballmer were still in charge

Microsoft proves its commitment to open source by joining the Linux Foundation

Gabriela Motroc
Close up of open display image via Shutterstock

It’s been 15 years since Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, called Linux “cancer” and now the unimaginable has happened: the company has joined the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member.

The Linux Foundation welcomed Microsoft with open arms as the tech giant embraced its new label: Platinum member of the Linux Foundation.

One might think that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer burned his bridges behind him when he told The Chicago Sun-Times in 2001 that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.” But Satya Nadella, the current CEO, is the living proof that Microsoft can change — one of his main goals is to work more closely with the open-source community and becoming a Platinum member of the Linux Foundation is a step in the right direction.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in a statement that “Microsoft has grown and matured in its use of and contributions to open source technology.”

The company has become an enthusiastic supporter of Linux and of open source and a very active member of many important projects. Membership is an important step for Microsoft, but also for the open source community at large, which stands to benefit from the company’s expanding range of contributions.

Although the move might seem shocking given Microsoft’s (old) aversion to open-sourcing, the tech giant already contributes to a few Linux Foundation projects, including Node.js Foundation, OpenDaylight, Open Container Initiative, R Consortium and Open API Initiative.

But wait, there’s more!

As if that were not enough, Google is joining Microsoft’s .NET Foundation Technical Steering Group. Chris Sells, Senior Product Manager at Google, announced the news in a blog post. “.NET is a key component in the modern enterprise, and the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) team has worked hard to ensure that .NET has first-class support on Google’s infrastructure, including excellent infrastructure for Windows,” Sells said.

Microsoft among the most influential organizations on GitHub

A couple of months ago, GitHub concocted a list of most influential organizations with the help of gh-impact, which measures open source influence. The top 10 list includes google, facebook, apache, Microsoft, mozilla, codrops, twitter, square, googlesamples and Netflix.

According to a report by Ian Dennis Miller, “gh-impact increases as the size of organizations increase, suggesting that individuals may have a comparative disadvantageWhile some individuals manage extremely successful projects, it is rare to find Individuals who manage multiple projects of a similar caliberOrganizations are not inherently resource- bound and can sustain many projects in parallel, leading to greater overall work impact and a correspondingly higher gh-impact score.”

Microsoft joined GitHub rather late, but by the time this happened there were already more than three million other accounts. The company led by Satya Nadella occupies the fourth position, which suggests that “there is some serious intention behind Microsoft’s shift to open source.”

How’s that for a change?

Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc was editor of and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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