Mike Stone

Mostly The Lonely Howls Of Mike Baying His Ideological Purity At The Moon

Is Windows Turning Into A Linux Distro?

27 Sep 2020

On March 24, 2001 Apple released Mac OS X (pronounced “ten”, not “ex”). It introduced a “unixy” foundation to Apple’s vaulted GUI. At the time, I thought to myself, “If Apple is basing their new OS on Unix/BSD, now would be a perfect time for Microsoft to redo Windows to be based on Linux!” Obviously, that didn’t happen, but is it about to?

In a recent blog post, ESR hypothesized that Microsoft may be in the process of switching Windows over to a Linux kernel. The major evidence he provided for this claim was Microsoft’s investment in kernel development to enhance and improve Windows Subsystem for Linux (which always feels like the name is backwards), and Microsoft porting Edge over to Linux.

I won’t say that his argument doesn’t have merit. I think it would probably be in Microsoft’s best interest to migrate some of the Windows development out of their shop and focus on their software and services sectors. They are, after all, where Microsoft makes most of their money these days.

I just don’t see it happening though.

I would love it if it did. Device support, software support, you name it. Bringing all that to Linux would be welcome by me at least. Not that a “Linuxized” version of Windows would automatically mean that all those things would work with non-Winux, but it would definitely ease compatibility issues.

If Microsoft did this, they’d want to keep in the good graces of open source developers. Making a fork of Linux that wasn’t compatible with the original code base would not do that. That could mean improved Linux driver support for the gamut.

Still, I can’t help but feel that this whole thing is a pipe dream. Microsoft has a long history of “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish”, and while there are those that argue that Microsoft has changed in the era of Satya Nadella, I still have my reservations. If Microsoft went down this road, I would be more surprised if they didn’t try to kill non-Microsoft Linux than if they did.

Day 88 of the #100DaysToOffload Series.

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