Some would say this has been a long time in coming, but others are probably looking around to see if they can spot Babe the pig taking off: Microsoft has announced it is submitting 20,000 lines of source code to the Linux kernel under the GPL2 licence.
Even Microsoft seems to be aware how strange this situation is, describing the move as "a break from the ordinary". The code essentially provides device drivers for Linux that help it detect when it is running on Microsoft's proprietary Hyper-V virtualisation system so that performance is improved.
Sam Ramji, the senior director of Platform Strategy in Microsoft’s Server and Tools division, said the code was there to "enhance interoperabilty" between Windows and Linux, "to provide the choices our customers are asking for." Tom Hanrahan, the direction of Microsoft's Open Source Technology Center (it has one of them?) was more specific: "The Linux device drivers we are releasing are designed so Linux can run in enlightened mode, giving it the same optimized synthetic devices as a Windows virtual machine running on top of Hyper-V. Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels."
Posting to the Linux Kernel mailing list, long-term kernel hacker Greg Kroah-Hartman said "It's taken a long road to get here... there is still a lot of work to do in getting this into "proper" mergable state, and moving it out of the staging directory".
A few years ago, Microsoft was describing the GPL as cancerous, so this seems like a major U-turn for the software behemoth. Sure, the ultimate goal is there to make Linux play ball better with Windows, but it's hardly like Microsoft was obliged to make Linux run faster on Windows. Is this, along with Microsoft's promise not to sue over Mono, the first of many steps towards Microsoft joining the Free Software community, or do you think it could end up being part of a Microsoft's old embrace-extend-extinguish tactics?
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