Microsoft's Linux love deepens: It's now one of Open Source Initiative's big backers

Microsoft takes its next step towards embracing the open-source movement.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The sponsorship is one more sign of Microsoft's new attitude towards open source, which has gone hand in hand with the rise of Azure.

Image: Microsoft

Azure gave Microsoft reason to love rather than loathe Linux, and the company has now gone a step further in embracing open source by sponsoring the Open Source Initiative -- a group that began defending open source 20 years ago, when Microsoft was calling Linux a cancer.

OSI has been an important organization in open source, responsible for approving vendor-specific open-source licenses from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle as truly open source.

In the 2000s, Microsoft submitted its Microsoft Community License and the Microsoft Permissive License to the OSI. Now, Microsoft will become a premium sponsor of OSI, alongside Google, IBM, HPE, and Facebook.

It's Microsoft's latest gesture of support for open source following last year's move to become a Platinum member of The Linux Foundation, which is also a member of OSI.

Google has a spot on OSI's board, but not on The Linux Foundation's, while Microsoft has one on The Linux Foundation's board but not on OSI's.

The sponsorship is one more sign of Microsoft's new attitude towards open source, which has gone hand in hand with the rise of Azure.

These days, even Microsoft founder, Bill Gates, is comfortable admitting he uses a phone with a Linux kernel, and though it's not a Windows Phone, it must be consoling to know that Android OEMs pay their dues through a web of Microsoft Android patent licensing agreements.

But while Microsoft has open-sourced its Chakra JavaScript engine for Edge, don't expect it to fully open-source the browser, or Windows, any time soon.

Nonetheless it has notched up several milestones including the release of open-source .Net Core 1.0 in 2014, working with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10 along with the Linux Subsystem for Windows 10, and open-sourcing Xamarin.

Microsoft developers are also the top contributors to GitHub and have worked with FreeBSD Foundation to support it on Azure.

Microsoft's director of open-source engineering Jeff McAffer said its OSI membership is part of the firm's developing relationship with open source.

"Today's announcement represents one more step in Microsoft's open-source journey, and our increased role in advocacy for the use, contribution, and release of open-source software, both with our customers and the ecosystem at large."

OSI's announcement describes Microsoft's membership as its "most dramatic step" yet towards supporting the open-source software movement.

"This is a significant milestone for the OSI and the open-source software movement more broadly," Patrick Masson, OSI general manager and board director, said in a statement.

"I don't think there could be any greater testament to the maturity, viability, interest, and success of open-source software than not only Microsoft's recognition, but also their support as a sponsor, as well as their participation as contributors to so many open-source projects and communities."

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