Linux and Microsoft were, for years, fully at odds with each other. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer considered Linux a bigger threat to Microsoft than Apple, and fans of one have often not been fans of the other. That's changed in recent years, as Microsoft has taken a bigger role in the Open Source Software community and in contributions to the Linux ecosystem and community. Now the company is making its commitment to Linux and open source official by joining the Linux Foundation as a Platinum member.
The Linux Foundation outlined some of Microsoft's big contributions in a press release. In the past few years, Microsoft has opened up core parts of .NET, brought Canonical's Ubuntu to Windows 10, and partnered with organizations like Red Hat and SUSE. The company also contributes to open source projects like Node.js and the Open API initiative.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin describes Microsoft's past relationship with Linux, saying "they weren't big fans." He acknowledges, too, that membership from a company like Microsoft is going to bring out skeptics. "There is an anti-establishment sentiment in open source. That's natural," he says.
While many PC users still hold a pretty negative view of the company, Zemlin insists the company has evolved. "Microsoft has grown and matured in its use of and contributions to open source technology," Zemlin writes in a prepared statement. "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."
As a platinum-level member—a seat that costs $500,000—Microsoft sits alongside companies like IBM, Samsung, Cisco, and Intel. Microsoft's John Gossman, an architect on its Azure team, will take a seat on the Linux Foundation board of directors.
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