Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), known for its Windows operating system (OS), has finally succumbed to the free OS Linux to further build and enhance its online presence. As Microsoft continues to grow, it has realized that traditional servers and Microsoft’s own Windows Server can no longer handle high data traffic. Microsoft’s user base continues to grow as it has started its transition toward cloud, just like Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB).
Linux is an open source, free OS that was first developed for personal computers using the Intel x86 architecture. With time, Linux has been ported onto more hardware platforms than any other OS. The most popular OS, Android, runs on the Linux Kernel. Google also has based its Chrome OS on the Linux Kernel due to the open source capabilities that Linux possesses. Linux’s most important use, however, is on servers, mainframe computers, and supercomputers. Linux has been widely used in the servers for tech giants like IBM and HP, ever since its introduction in the early 90s. Microsoft, however, always argued that Linux had infringed on its patents. Linux’s code was freely available to the world, so it disclosed Microsoft’s intellectual property to the tech world. But finally, Microsoft has realized that Linux is used by every major tech company to build large online systems, and that it would have to incorporate Linux’s OS with Windows if it wants to remain viable in the future.
According to a blog posted by a Microsoft engineer, “Microsoft Linux” has been created to run Microsoft’s networking hardware that powers the company’s online services. Microsoft, however, has been reluctant to accept that it uses an OS that the company had despised since its inception. This does not mean that Microsoft will be ditching Windows for its servers and networking equipment. It is just helpless against the power of open source and needs Linux to further develop and refine its systems.
The majority of servers that power Microsoft’s online services are still powered by Windows OS. With time, Microsoft has modified its OS to be more Linux-like, so that its software is better suited to run across thousands of machines simultaneously, as Linux OS does. Microsoft is set to debut its new OS in Chicago next month; according to a number of sources, the new OS will be called Windows Nano Server.
Google and Facebook have also used Linux to develop their own networking hardware. Because of continued growth in their online clientele, they cannot rely on traditional network equipment like Cisco routers and switches, as they are very expensive and not as functional. These switches come with pre-loaded Cisco software and cannot be programmed with open source software like Linux. This makes them pretty much useless for companies like Google and Facebook. Microsoft faces a similar problem; the company’s online presence continues to grow, and even though it had Windows Servers before, it needed a Linux platform for its OS. Most networking companies have built their OS on the Linux platform so it makes perfect sense for Microsoft to do the same. Even though Windows has an embedded software for networking, it cannot be pulled out and used for specific networking purposes. Microsoft, with plans to build a completely new OS for its networking hardware, has made a smart move.
With plans to build an OS in collaboration with Linux, Microsoft has the opportunity to get insights into the networking industry and eliminate flaws that have plagued Microsoft’s online growth. Since Linux is open source, companies like Facebook and Google had to release their designs for their networking hardware and software. This is another opportunity for Microsoft to further enhance its networking equipment viz-a-viz its rivals. Microsoft has also been a part of the Open Compute Project, which was founded by Facebook, where the community shares ways to improve networking gear. This also runs on the Linux platform.