How Linux took over everything, including Microsoft Azure

Linux usage on Microsoft Azure has now surpassed Windows. Here's how the OS came to dominate the enterprise.

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Linux usage on Microsoft Azure cloud has now surpassed Windows usage, according to Microsoft Linux kernel developer Sasha Levin, demonstrating how far the open source OS has come since former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux a "cancer" back in 2001. 

This milestone is not a surprise: Linux now runs most enterprise computing both on in-house servers and in the cloud, our sister site ZDNet noted. Linux had 68% of the OS market share in 2017, IDC found, and has only increased since then. Meanwhile, Windows Server has been declining for several years. 

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"Every month, Linux goes up," Scott Guthrie, Microsoft's executive vice president of the cloud and enterprise group, told ZDNet last year. "Native Azure services are often running on Linux. Microsoft is building more of these services. For example, Azure's Software Defined Network (SDN) is based on Linux."

Linux and open source have been on the rise for Microsoft users for more than 10 years, after Microsoft open sourced ASP.NET back in 2009, Guthrie told ZDNet. "We recognized open source is something that every developer can benefit from," he added. "It's not nice, it's essential. It's not just code, it's community."

Indeed, Linux's success lies in the open source development model, TechRepublic's Matt Asay noted. While that model does not guarantee long term success, it does allow the technology to be improved with less friction and a lot of community. Linux is also the most secure OS available, according to the UK's Communications-Electronics Security Group

The explosion of Linux across Azure also shows how much Microsoft has changed under CEO Satya Nadella's leadership, as opposed to Ballmer's. In 2016, Ballmer said that he now considers the threat from Linux to be over. However, under Ballmer's tenure, Microsoft's shares lost 40% of their value, while they have risen immensely under Nadella, who has publicly touted the company's love for Linux

For more, check out Why Linux stands out amongst other OSes on TechRepublic. 

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Image: iStockphoto/Spectral-Design

By Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.