Microsoft today is enjoying its 40th anniversary, but through all those years, Windows has remained Microsoft’s flagship software, as it runs on many of the world’s desktops, laptops, phones, and even servers. Having enjoyed such a strong position in all positions of the computer market for so long, has the time come for Microsoft to open up the world’s most popular operating system a little bit, letting others leverage its potential for free? One of the company’s top engineers thinks so.
Meet Mark Russinovich, a top Microsoft Engineer responsible for saying that yes, the company could open source the software behind its OS said that he believes that many companies as well as Microsoft customers are now relying on the open source community more and more, and that Microsoft should embrace that change as well.
“It’s definitely possible,” Russinovich says. “It’s a new Microsoft.”
Wired has reported that Microsoft now allows the open source Linux operating system on its Azure cloud computing service, while it was previously restricting to running Windows only. Today, Linux runs on approximately 20% of Azure cloud computing instances. Microsoft sees the popularity that Linux enjoys, and is considering its next step of putting its iconic Windows OS into the open source community carefully.
While it might be the biggest, Windows definitely isn’t the first thing that Microsoft will be open-sourcing. Earlier last year, Microsoft announced that it would be making its .NET tool open source and bringing it to more platforms, previously only being available on Windows. Russinovich says that open sourcing its software will help Microsoft sell its other products, including cloud computing services such as Windows Azure, in addition to other apps and services that run on top of its operating system.
Even if the Windows OS that you’re probably using right now goes open source, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly going to become a free for all. Microsoft will continue to use the operating system to maximize its profits because of the fact that many of the world’s businesses still need a vendor to package, distribute, update, and even support the OS. Even with the source code becoming free, Microsoft will still make money by providing these services to the end user.