The Windows operating system that dominates so many of the world’s computers, servers, tablets, and phones has stood the test of time. The wants and needs of Microsoft’s customers have always been at the forefront when new iterations of the OS are designed. This time is no different.
When asked whether Microsoft would consider an open source (free) version of Windows, top engineer Mark Russinovich, responded, “It’s definitely possible. It’s a new Microsoft.” For many of today’s developers, this is music to one’s ears.
Wired’s Cade Metz elaborated on the matter in his latest online article, recapping Russinovich’s experience at ChefConf, as follows:
When Russinovich asks how many in the audience use nothing but Windows to run their machines, one guy raises his hand—one guy out of several hundred. Mostly, they run the open source Linux operating system.
But this is what Russinovich expects. “That’s the reality we live in today,” he says. The tech world has changed in enormous ways. So many Microsoft customers are now relying on open source code. And that means Microsoft must embrace it too. The company now allows Linux on its Azure cloud computing service, a way of renting computers over the Internet, and today, Linux is running on at least 20 percent of those computers.
In open sourcing Windows, Microsoft could expand the use of its OS. Open code is easier to test, easier to shape, easier to build into something else. And if the OS is more widely used, that means a bigger audience for the Microsoft applications that run on Windows.
Earlier this year, Microsoft open sourced a tool called .NET, a popular way of building online applications, and the hope is that this will expand the tool’s reach. Outside coders are even working to move the tool onto Linux machines and Apple Macs. In the end, Russinovich says, this will help Microsoft sell other stuff. “It’s an enabling technology that can get people started on other Microsoft solutions,” he says of .NET. “If they’re using Linux technologies that we can’t play with, they can’t be a customer of ours.”
For more information about Microsoft’s future plans for open source products, see the full Wired article.
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