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Microsoft Exec Teases Possibility of Open Source Windows

The future of Windows could be open source, according to a Microsoft executive this week.

The comment came from Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Microsoft Azure, who was a panelist at the ChefConf 2015 event at Santa Clara, Calif., on Wednesday. In response to a question about whether Microsoft would consider making Windows an open source platform, Russinovich said it was "definitely possible."

"It's a new Microsoft," he said. "Literally every conversation you can imagine about what should we do with our software -- open, not open, services -- it's happened."

However, don't expect Microsoft to open source Windows anytime soon. "We have not made any open source policy or business model changes for Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a comment to VentrueBeat.

Under the helm of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft, which celebrates its 40th birthday this weekend, is willing to try new strategies and change policies that worked in the past to stay relevant in today's market, according to Russinovich. His comments could indicate a willingness in Microsoft's part to embrace change, instead of a shift in the company's current Windows strategy.

"Once we started to look deeply at why are we operating the way we are, what has been holding us back, let's change," Russinovich said. "That kind of opened the floodgates that you see us now going everywhere with open source. It's no longer taboo. It's actually encouraged in many places."

Microsoft's support for open source Docker containers on Windows Server and its announcement last December that its full server-side .NET core stack would be able to run cross-platform are indicative of Microsoft's push into open source territory.

The company's decision to allow Windows 7 and 8.x users to upgrade to Windows 10 for free is also a sign that it is willing to change its OS model to meet today's demands and embrace an open source approach to Windows -- a notion that may have seemed far-fetched during the Bill Gates era.

"That's the reality we live in today," Russinovich said. "The tech world has changed in enormous ways. So many companies -- so many Microsoft customers -- are now relying on open source code. And that means Microsoft must embrace it, too."

A video of the panel discussion is available here.

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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