A week or so ago it was announced that Microsoft was planning on bringing Ubuntu to Windows. At that time no one was sure what exactly this meant. Were we going to see a full-blown Unity GUI running on top of the Windows OS? Was this the official end of a very long war between Microsoft and open source? Would this herald the world-wide acceptance for Linux on the desktop?
- Who'll ever know.
- Wouldn't that be nice.
I reached out to Canonical to find out the truth behind this move to have my suspicions validated. This had nothing to do with the GUI...or bringing Ubuntu to Windows. What this is all about is bash...the command line. Even though we had pundits speculating that we'd see a full user-mode Linux image running on Windows, the truth is (or so says the Canonical PR folk), this is only commands specific to servers and development.
To confuse the matter even more, we get a direct quote from Mark Shuttleworth:
"The native availability of a full Ubuntu environment on Windows, without virtualization or emulation, is a milestone that defies convention and a gateway to fascinatingly unfamiliar territory. In our journey to bring free software to the widest possible audience, this is not a moment we could have predicted. Nevertheless we are delighted to stand behind Ubuntu for Windows, committed to addressing the needs of Windows developers exploring Linux in this amazing new way, and excited at the possibilities heralded by this unexpected turn of events."
"Full Ubuntu environment on Windows" kind of muddies the waters, when we now know it's only a portion of the Ubuntu environment, don't you think?
My turn to speculate
Here's what I believe is going on. We've already seen the following happen:
- Microsoft bringing MsSQL to Linux
- Wim Coekaerts, the man who turned Oracle into a Linux powerhouse, moving to Microsoft
- Microsoft embracing Linux on its Azure cloud
- Microsoft investing in Linux projects
And now, Microsoft brings Bash to Windows. The juggernaut has finally realized where the future lies...and it is not in the desktop platform. The future is the cloud, SaaS, and virtualization. The future is big data, and massive databases.
The future is Linux and Microsoft knows this. This isn't the 90s or early 2000s when it was chic to look down on the underdog and laugh as the powerhouse raked in cash like leaves on a Midwestern autumn lawn. The time for spreading Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) is over. This is now and now is all about open source.
Microsoft fully understands and embraces this. And so they are bringing to Windows the tools they need to make it happen. This move isn't so much about Linux, but about Microsoft.
Don't get me wrong. I'm glad that Microsoft has opened their arms to open source. They have (maybe without even realizing it) fully validated Linux and open source as the future of IT and business. For that, every fan of FOSS should celebrate. But this is the same company everyone teased would someday patent ones and zeroes. So when this company makes such a move, you cannot believe said move to be without agenda. Microsoft wants a piece of this very delicious and profitable pie. That is why they brought MsSQL to Linux...not because they wanted to give back, but because they had to. Microsoft needed to gain a foothold in a market (big data) dominated by Linux and open source. The fastest way to do that was to play nice. And here we are, watching something unfold we never thought would happen.
Microsoft needs Linux.
End of story.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.