Microsoft’s Brad Smith says company was “on the wrong side of history” regarding Linux

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Microsoft has gone a long way since former CEO Steve Ballmer infamously called Linux “a cancer”. Actually, Microsoft has embraced Linux in a pretty big way in recent years, helping the company attract more of the developers that Ballmer chased back in the day.

During a recent chat hosted by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (via The Register), Microsoft President Brad Smith acknowledged that the company “was on the wrong side of history when open source exploded at the beginning of the century and I can say that about me personally.” The Microsoft veteran, who joined the company before it was hit by antitrust litigations in the nineties added that “The good news is that, if life is long enough, you can learn… that you need to change.”

Indeed, Microsoft did change: Azure, the company’s cloud computing platform has been supporting various Linux distributions for many years. Microsoft also used a Linux-based OS for its Azure Sphere platform for IoT app development. In recent years, Build 2016 was another big “Microsoft loves Linux” moment with the introduction of the Windows Subsystem for Linux.

If 2020 is still not the “Year of Linux on the desktop,” Microsoft did the right thing by embracing Linux, which really helped to make Azure and even Windows more relevant than ever. The Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2), which Microsoft announced last year, is actually one of the big new features coming in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update later this month.