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  • Microsoft is ready to swap out the Windows kernel for Linux ?

    Home Forums Developers, developers, developers Microsoft is ready to swap out the Windows kernel for Linux ?

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      • #2299765
        AskWoody Plus

        According to a blog post penned by open-source advocate Eric Raymond, Microsoft is finally ready to give up on that old relic it called Windows, which doesn’t even generate enough revenue anymore to be more than a “sideshow” at the company. Raymond says that now that Azure makes so much more money than Windows does, the firm is set to replace Windows with Linux, which will run an emulation layer in order to maintain compatibility with legacy apps….

      • #2299888

        Ever since Chredge arrived, I’ve been pondering the same possibility. MS is all about cloud services now, and Linux is big there. It’s not a competitor to MS, since MS doesn’t care all that much about Windows anymore, but is instead a moneymaker for them.

        Under Nadella, MS clearly wants to develop Windows on the cheap, as evidenced by his elimination of the paid testers. When all the hard work of developing and maintaining an OS is already being done by someone else, why not make use of it and save the money? They did this with Chredge, which would have been unthinkable in the early 2000s, when MS was dominating the web with IE, but here we are.

        People who are aware of Microsoft’s long history of predatory behavior and “EEE” (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) were understandably suspicious when MS became a Platinum member of the Linux foundation. Many of them immediately thought MS was trying to EEE Linux… but why now? Linux is making money for Microsoft with Azure, and that wasn’t true when Ballmer famously called Linux (or more properly, its license) “a cancer,” and even then, MS did not try to EEE Linux. FUD, certainly, but not EEE.

        I’ve postulated that the reason MS would want to join the Linux Foundation was that it would potentially smooth out some of the licensing difficulties MS may have when trying to release a GNU-licensed OS with non-GNU bits, which is nominally prohibited by GNU and further encumbered by the recognition of software patents in the US (something that MS previously would have used as a weapon against others).

        MS may have noted that licensing suits by members of the Linux Foundation against Platinum Linux Foundation members seem to evaporate really quickly. If MS can keep being nice to Linux and open-source, people may begin to see them as legit contributors, and any zealotry to “protect” Linux from them by means of legal action could fade.

        Apple, of course, sidestepped the licensing issues by basing their OS on FreeBSD, which is licensed in such a way that Apple is free to grab it and incorporate it into their product without any obligation to open-source the code for the new stuff. MS could go that route, but MS is not developing Windows for a small handful of hardware configurations controlled by the company itself. Windows is meant to run on a broad variety of hardware configurations, and Linux is far ahead of FreeBSD when it comes to that kind of thing. If they could get around the licensing issues, Linux is clearly a better choice for them.

        I would not go so far as to say MS is ready to do it, but it is not hard to see such a path from where we stand now, with WSL being integrated more and more into Windows. Various functions now handled by the Windows kernel could be handed off to WSL, one by one, with MS contributing to the kernel development where needed to make this happen.

        As for the compatibility layer, WINE is already quite decent, having grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years, and MS could greatly accelerate this with a relatively small amount of effort, as one thing that has greatly slowed WINE development was Microsoft’s unwillingness to fully document their APIs. Some actual inside knowledge by MS could really give it a boost. Efforts to bring DX12 for WINE are already underway, and DX11 support is already strong enough that some Windows games run with better framerates on Linux than on the OS they were designed for.

        I’d love to see some Microsoft money and knowledge poured into Linux. Some Linux fans will no doubt continue to sound the alarm, but they’re still stuck in the mindset of thinking MS is a Windows-centric company. Not in the Nadella era, they’re not. When Nadella was selected as the new CEO, it was because the shareholders wanted a cloud guy, and they got one. Much of the cloud runs on Linux!

        Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.4 User Edition)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2300164
          AskWoody Plus

          Ascaris logic seems quite reasonable, but if MS were to have a Linux-based Windows and, therefore, an open source one, what is it going to happen when other developers start coming out with forks of Windows? Or picking up bits and pieces of its source code to use them as parts of their own software? Would, besides, maybe, Nadella, other people at MS as well as their investors like that?

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2300076
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