back to article Microsoft embraces Linux 'cancer' to sell Windows servers

Microsoft is embracing 'cancer' to help ensure Windows survives server-room consolidation. The company has released 20,000 lines of Windows kernel code under version two of the GPL. Microsoft called the license it once hated "the community's preferred license". How things have changed. Back in 2001, Microsoft's chief research …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. raving angry loony
    Black Helicopters

    what's the catch?

    Call me paranoid, but I note they're using version 2 of the GPL, not version 3 which protects people from submarine patents. So they get this stuff to infect non-Microsoft code, then turn around and start suing people. That's a very Microsoft move right there.

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. It worked in the 80's. It worked in the 90's. I'm guessing it will work for them in this decade as well, and people will just keep helping them make it work by being trusting fools.


    Beware the beast, he is the devil

    Who grabs your hand and leads you in

    Beware the beast, he is in revel

    He guides you to fire

  2. dave hands

    Gandhi was right

    First they ignore at you

    Then they laugh at you

    Then they fight you

    Then you win

  3. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    What's the catch ?

    Says a lot about their reputation that the first thought that comes ot mind is "what's the catch ?" What patent traps are they laying ?

    Still, it's a small step in the right direction in many respects. That the all mighty Micro$oft suddenly feels threatened enough to be forced into this means that Linux (and FOSS in general) is clearly making inroads into their virtual monopoly. I think we can be certain that they wouldn't be doing it if they didn't feel under threat.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Twilight Zone...

    Mr. Serling?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's late ...

    But how does all this benefit anyone, exactly?

  6. N2


    Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer called Linux a "cancer" because he/they cant halt its progress.

    or is it terminal for Microsoft?

  7. Russell Howe

    @raving angry loony

    Well, the kernel is only GPLv2...

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Linix wishes it was as widespread as cancer.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    A ha, what's the catch?!

    This as well as Mono (the .NET monkey-ing) are two moves that the OSS people should be very wary of.

  10. ElNumbre
    Paris Hilton

    20,000 lines under the sea?

    20,000 lines? Bah, Ms Hilton can do that many lines in a day....

    Come back to me when they've added a few zero's to that line count.

  11. J 3

    Re: what's the catch?

    "Call me paranoid, but I note they're using version 2 of the GPL, not version 3 which protects people from submarine patents."

    I'm not sure, but it might be because the Linux kernel itself is not moving to GPL v 3 anytime soon, apparently. Or would it be possible to mix the two in the kernel? I would think so, but haven't read much about it lately.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Call me paranoid"

    "Call me paranoid" alright paranoid 8-)

    OK, but seriously, I expect it is released GPLv2 just because the rest of the Linux kernel is. This is something to certainly check for though.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Zwei oder drei?

    It really matters very little, at least to the litigiously non-obsessed.

    Considering vague concepts and hand-wavery are not patentable in 99% of the civilised world east of Miami, let Baldmer build his security-hardened data centres in the air.

    The rest of us will sit and watch, release code for gratis when it suits, with the secret hope this bubbling torrent of GPL-ed froth will eventually become truly free - and so in the public domain.

  14. Nate Amsden

    wake me up

    Wake me up when Hyper-V officially supports more linux versions than just SuSE, and when they support with more than 1 CPU

    Hyper-V is still a joke, maybe someday it won't be, but it is today. The "free" Xen is too, glad that RH and others are ditching it for KVM, it seems to have some potential.

    When did SuSE start releasing patches as "Service packs" *shudder*


    Die hard vmware user for more than a decade now (pre 1.0)

  15. Rob Moss.

    Source code

    Has anyone checked through the source code and found why Windows is slow, consumes heaps of memory, crashes?

    Or is this 20k lines of code all of the comment lines and no actual code?


    /* i don't know why we have to put in a sleep(1); for every loop iteration */


    /* i thought that strcpy without checking the size was a good idea */


    /* i think this is a bug, but i'm not sure, i'll leave it in */


    /* where is goto? */


    /* BASIC is much easier than C */


    /* memcpy because 640k should be enough for everyone! */


    /* are null pointers bad? */


  16. zenkaon
    Gates Halo

    To all the Linux bashers

    If Linux has done one thing for you it's to reduce the price of Microsoft software. Sounds like you can get a better deal from Microsoft just by mentioning that your planning to switch to Linux.

    Good to see that MS has put some code out there, sure I can modify it under the terms of the GNU/GPL, but how do I recompile windows and redistribute it??? Oh, I can't.....hmm I see.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @raving angry loonie

    that's everything that i thought would be said in this thread in one post, congratulations.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    Does anyone actually understand the thing? More legalese than any EULA that I have ever seen....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GPL V2 / GPL V3

    What does it matter what version the Linux kernel uses?

    This is Microsoft releasing MS code - not Linux code!

  20. brudinie

    Wrong date!

    You forgot to post this article on April the 1st, didn't you?

  21. Anonymous Coward


    Anyone who can't write an entire kernel in under 20,000 lines isn't trying!

    Kids these days. Don't know they're born. 20K lines! Ridiculous.

    *10 more minutes of rambling moaning*

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Windows as host

    The problem with hosting virtual machines on Windows is the write latency of NTFS is very last decade. Microsoft could do with front-ending onto one or two modern filing systems next of which many are much better performers for this sort of thing (reiser4, EXT4, etc.).

    Oh, and anecdotally I've only ever actually lost data with NTFS (and FAT32 before that), despite using Windows and Linux fairly evenly in a clustered environment. Probably just bad luck, but it would seem to hint at the relative fragility.

  23. Tom 7

    So you want to run Linux?

    sure - just pay MS for running an Windows Server 8 on the machine and you can run Linux on top of that. So if that's a server you presumably will have to pay for licenses for more than 5 (10?) connections to that Linux

    Now I see what they're doing - trying to tax you for using Linux!

    Just make sure you have linux compatible hardware (easy at server level) and you can do it for free!! Unless you want MS to 'support' your Linux distribution....

  24. psyq

    There is no "catch"

    First of all, Linux Kernel is GPL v2 - there is nothing inherently "evil" with Microsoft releasing Linux kernel code with the same license as the rest of the Linux Kernel. I will skip the GPL v3 "patent protection" nonsense, even Linus Torvalds is not buying it...

    As for the hidden agenda, there is none - Microsoft cannot ignore the simple fact that there are tons of cheap small Linux web servers used for e.g. hosting plans, etc... Those are all going to be virtualized and hosted on more powerful multi-core systems.

    So, instead of doing nothing they can at least try to get the money for the hosting OS - and for this, they need the client VMs to run as fast as possible, so they can have an edge over e.g. VMWare.

    This is actually a "win win" for Microsoft and Linux - Microsoft cannot ignore reality, they certainly cannot make all those Linux servers in question switch to Win Server 2008 - but they can at least try to get something by offering to host those systems on a Hyper-V server.

  25. Francis Fish

    Linus didn't like GPL V3 - too restrictive

    GPL V3 is a political tool to make everything free. If I remember correctly Linus didn't like it and won't use it because implementing it was too much of a PITA and came with an agenda he wasn't comfortable with.

    If these drivers mean that I can use NTFS external HDD without them having to be rebuilt every month or so then I'm cool with it. The OSS drivers don't work properly if you do lots of reads and writes (as in rsync to them) and you have to plug the disk into a Windows machine when you find you can write to it any more and repair it. Got boring very quickly so I reformatted to the ext3 file system.

    Being able to use a file system that can be easily used from either OS is great, although it would be nice of MS supported the common Unix/Linux ones out of the box, wouldn't it?

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Do. Not. Trust.

    MS have a long and inglorious history in underhanded legal attacks. I would want to see signed and sealed documentation that they will never use any line of code they release as the source of any legal action now or at any point in the future.

    Steve Ballmer should then make a public statement reiterating the fact that MS will never use this code (or subsequent code) to sue or get any kind of injunction against anyone using the code, or anything based on the code, in perpetuity.

    Maybe then, just maybe, I'll believe them. Until such times, this code should be treated as highly dangerous and not integrated into anything.

  27. Psymon
    Gates Halo

    @raving angry looney

    Ya know, ten years ago, I'd whole heartedly agree, but these days, that's the last thing MS would do.

    Mainly because Apples lawyers would have beaten them to the punch by several weeks, while google continued to violate any and all copyright laws, soaking up the fines like some gargantuan behemoth wading its way through lilliput...

    Oh, how the times have changed.

    Welcome to the new boss, same as the old...

  28. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Is this kernel code?

    Is it part of the Windows kernel, or is it merely a few device drivers (that anyone could write) that runs at kernel level but isn't (in the colloquial sense) "kernel code".

    And since its effect seems to be just to make it easier to migrate from Linux to Windows, is it anything more than "Microsoft do something that is in their own self-interest -- Film at 11".

    I'd use the "Dead El Reg" icon, except that I've no intention of removing you from my bookmarks.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Re Where's the catch?

    Quick moves by the tin-foil red-hat brigade, there! The truth is, GPL3 is badly worded (see and no-one in the trying-to-make-a-profit-from-investing-in-our-own-rather-than-distributing-others software industry would touch it with a barge pole.

    It's *just possible* that El Reg's analysis is correct and this is a business move to avoid loss of sales in marginal markets.

    As for 'submarine patents', dream on - releasing the code as open source freely available for use provides a clear case of estoppel against any subsequent prosecution the mustachioed devils in Redmond are plotting.

    Flame away

    / Replaces tin foil hat with oven mitt

  30. Wonko the Sane


    As someone mentioned, this is just MS's attempt to monetize Linux. Also, I think it a cheap way for MS to cheapen F/OSS. They pollute the F/OSS atmosphere by GPLing only bits and drabs and only in a way that points the clueless back to Redmond.

    Ballmer, if you were anymore transparent, you'd be in a bigger freakshow than MS.

  31. Rob Beard

    Weather forcast in hell...

    Cloudy at the moment, sunny later.

    (Can't take the credit for this one, it was posted by Jim in the Ubuntu-UK mailing list :-)


  32. Robert Grant

    Business speke

    "its country level subsidiaries have been authorized to cut their own deals with wavering customers without looping in Redmond."

    To be even more unnecessarily "businesslike", consider:

    s/looping in/inlooping/

  33. Anonymous Coward

    and there's your problem right there chaps...

    @ gerhardt

    "..... release code for gratis when it suits......". that is exactly why none of this OSS stuff gets anywhere near our core systems..... and yes little bits of it are MS.

    sorry, but 'when it suits' is what scares me about you lot.


  34. steogede

    re: gpl v2 / gpl v3

    > This Microsoft releasing MS code - not Linux code!

    According to the article this is Linux code (at least some of it) and it will be part of the next Linux kernel release. So this is both MS code and Linux code.

    Where's the catch? That's a bit like asking where the catch is on a fishing hook - the whole thing is the catch. According to the article the only purpose of this is to ease use of Linux on Windows. The catch is that you have to use Windows as your main operating system. I don't see them offering similar concessions in their own operating system to make run better in Linux based VMs. No doubt the will have a way to charge you for each copy of Linux hosted by Windows - they'll probably make it more expensive than running Windows instances on the same server.

  35. Tom 38

    @raving angry loony

    If you had ever read the GPL v2 license, you would have come across these conditions:

    This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify

    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by

    the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or

    (at your option) any later version.

    So anyone who wishes to re-use this software under GPL v3 is able to, at their choice. It is people who choose GPL v3 who remove any choice; you cannot license that under GPL v2.

    Oh, and of course, anyone using a real open source license like BSD is also SOL.

  36. SynnerCal

    I'm pleased

    It's a good announcement - maybe this week's furore over kernel issues in Linux has made MS realise that Linux is a proper OS like Windows - after all it's now got OS-level security issues (just like Windows) too! :D

    (Before the Knights of Linux start firing up the penguin-oil fueled flamethrowers, please note the icon I used).

    Seriously though, this is to be cautiously welcomed, but I don't think it's going to persuade me to switch from running Windows (XP and 7RC - Vista sukz) on Linux to running Linux on Windows.

    @Wake Me Up (Nate Amsden) - couldn't agree me - VMware Server 2 on Ubuntu for me. :)

    @Perspective (AC 20th Jul 21:52) "Linix wishes it was as widespread as cancer." Not sure about "Linix", but "Linux" is very much out there now, and it's probably about as easy to spot as cancer - so deal with that! :p

  37. Barracoder

    Linux meerkats doing what meerkats do

    Glad to see nothing has changed in the average Linux user mindset since the last time I looked down the back of the fridge. I doubt I could find a more childish, ill-informed bunch of mutually masturbating misfits outside of Qom.

    Next time, I hope Microsoft let you write your own fucking device drivers. Although, judging by the fun and interesting way the kernel is apparently handling null pointers these days, perhaps that's not such a good idea for your users.

  38. Anonymous Coward

    @Linux meerkats doing what meerkats do

    Sorry, is there a FoTW competition going on somewhere that you decided to enter?

    The device drivers that MS have released are (afaik) for the virtual devices that Hyper-V provide so if MS didn't provide them, then either the Linux community would do it, or folks would just avoid Hyper-V in favour of the more popular virtualization solutions - e.g. VMware, VirtualBox, ... So is that clear enough now - do you understand what's going on?

    Maybe it's just me mellowing but the posting's on this article so far seem to be pretty wide ranging and, on the whole reasonable. Yours - of course - being the exception to this standard... E.g. if you haven't been to Qom then I suggest you don't go casting aspersions; Linux users seem to get on pretty well, and given where it 'hides' maybe you're an inadvertant user yourself.

    Meanwhile, I think you'll find your bud's on the redneck IRC channel are missing you - better get back there quick and leave this site to the grown ups.

    Apologies to all others for cluttering up the comments area with something that ain't about the article.

  39. John Sanders
    Gates Horns


    In redmond´s secret underground lair...

    - Ok guys we´re in now!

    - Begin phase 2...

  40. Oninoshiko

    the title of DOOM!


    Actually that is NOT a part of the license itself, but a statement of WHAT licence the code is under. Many projects do NOT include the "later versions" component, because they do not want to use a license for which they dont know the terms (which any lawyer worth (his/her/it's) weight in salt will tell you would be reccomended). Additionally any software released under those terms can be redistributed with the "any later version" component dropped. ("I accept this code under the terms of the GPL 2, and redistribute under the same terms")

    @what's the catch?

    The GPL 2 and the GPL 3 are not compatible licenses (because the GPL 3 contains additional restrictions over the GPL 2). For MS to release kernel-code, it MUST be under the GPL 2 (as that is what the kernel is under).

    That said, there is the interesting theory of "what happens with the binary modules like nvedia's drivers if someone with the cash decides to see if that's a GPL violation." Until now noone had the money, intrest and legal standing. MS just gained legal standing. Think they might be interested?

    That's also why I like the CDDL, no question that you can use modules under other licenses.

  41. Quirkafleeg
    FAIL I think not

    And not (which I see was released yesterday) either. Or any other 2.6.30.n, since the patches which add this aren't *fixing* bugs.

    2.6.31, maybe; I don't know. I'm guessing 2.6.32 at the earliest, though, which would put it on course for making an appearance in a release kernel in late November, give or take a few weeks.

  42. Quirkafleeg

    Choice of licence

    It occurs to me that the choice of GPLv2 only leaves the BSD crowd out. Had the timebomb^Wextension^Wsource been released under the 3-clause BSD licence, then they could have taken it too, and it could _still_ be used in Linux without problems.

  43. Rex Alfie Lee

    The Linux Cancer

    I've heard it said, though it is technically awry, that a baby is the only positive & wonderful cancerous growth. I won't get into why but that Linux cancer may well be the only positive thing to come out of computing OSs in a long while. Microsoft is more focused on fixing an OS that doesn't work just enough that they keep "the great unwashed" in nappies for a long time.

    The problem is that the "the great unwashed" are getting smarter & hence M$ is finding it harder to build in the flaws that need to be updated with the next version of Windows each time. Their growing litigious support network has no doubt proven their financial worth on paper but done nothing purposeful in aiding M$'s sad software development. Thus it would seem that Linux gets to hold the crown after turning the throne with the holey seat in the cubicle into a royal & holy seat & leave M$ to it's ever-reducing box; you-know the one with the walls coming in on them.

    They've thrown excrement & everything else at Linux with many of the walls too close & they got spattered with their own muck. Now they are playing nice with Linux. Why would they do that? To put Linux in a soft & cosy place so they can turn around & sue their butts off. Probably! Doesn't matter ultimately because Linux will stay the course & M$ will fail in the long run anyway. Too far down the line for my liking but they will die one day.

    Bye-bye Stevie & good riddance. The only thing you were good for was an embarrassing laugh.

  44. Rex Alfie Lee

    psyq, How Dumb Are You?

    ... the dumbest thing is why would anyone who could set-up a Linux ISP believe it worthwhile to run this via a Windows server virtual environment where everything is under threat by virus & spyware. If I can setup a Linux-based ISP server then I can damn-well set up a virtual environment under Linux using an open-source version & run as many Linux OSs as I want & Windows as well, all for nothing. Well the Windows did cost something. The goose that does what you just stated is a MCSE stoolie that believes the catch-cry from M$ that the MCSE version is easier to set-up. It has to run well as well. It needs to be able to run without being open to so many threats.

    You goose. Linux doesn't get zip from this & as someone else stated earlier .NOT or the Novell version of C# is another "be wary" or tread carefully. Personally I don't see why anyone would want to use it at all.

    None of these things actually helps Linux's forward progression. All these are doing is assisting Ballmer, that's Stevie "I'm gonna f**king kill Google" (whilst throwing a chair against a wall) for when dodos fall for their sudden change of warmth & kindness by suck-in & destroy tactics. If you believe otherwise you are a turkey in for one litigious experience.

    **VMWare over anything Microsoft builds for that reason alone**

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like