back to article Steve Ballmer: Get the Facts. I 'love' SQL Server on Linux

Nearly two decades after calling Linux a “cancer” Steve Ballmer has changed his stance, though he's been careful not to back down or apologise over his pronouncements of the past. Microsoft’s former CEO claimed he “loved” this week’s news that Redmond would deliver a Linux-compatible version of its ever-popular SQL Server …

  1. Bc1609

    Threat from Linux "in the rear-view mirror"

    That attitude goes some way to explaining Windows 10.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Threat from Linux "in the rear-view mirror"

      Each time I replace a Windows install with Linux, I'll remember those words, and smile.

      How do you eat an elephant like Microsoft? One byte at a time.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Threat from Linux "in the rear-view mirror"

        I suppose some people really find odd things fun. Installing OS certainly doesn't do it for me.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects


        I'm on a M$ office course now and the idea of battening down and sucking up that czjd storm of junk is killing me. The tutor in one course had me close down all my tabs as they were were a problem. If I have a problem with 50 or so tabs on my linux kit, it will only be due to using el Reg unguarded. One or two clicks on NoScript and everything is AOK again.

    2. Bob Vistakin

      Here's something Blamer would surely approve of

      Turns out the downgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is now physically being forced on users.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    All part of the Cunning Plan

    Release something with only say 50% of the functionality on a competing OS.

    When the businesses are hooked and need 'the full monty' they have to abandon Linux and move to windows. lots more $$$$ for MS and don't forget those CALS chaps.

    Simples eh?

    Baldrick would be proud.

    Sceptic? septic more like.

  3. itzman

    Windows on Linux next?

    I would imagine the next step is a Microsoft wine-like shim that sits on Linux and allows you to run windows and and all other winapps on linux, followed by a full blown 'comes with a linux kernel' release of Windows.

    Windows is then just another linux distro ;-)

    BUT of course that will be a cue to start to take over Linux..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows on Linux next?

      The thought of 'the Registry' on linux just makes me want to throw up. And it is not far off Beer O'clock.

      Imagine (or don't) how they'd port all those turds called Group Policies?


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        Yes - a load of crap. At work, I have to use the shite, and after booting up and logging in (3 minutes), the thing sits there for 5 minutes "Loading Group policy printers policy...".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Windows on Linux next?

          "Yes - a load of crap. At work, I have to use the shite, and after booting up and logging in (3 minutes), the thing sits there for 5 minutes "Loading Group policy printers policy..."."

          You're blaming Group Policies for having a crap IT department/System Administrator? Do you blame your browser because your broadband line is slow?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Windows on Linux next?

            "You're blaming Group Policies for having a crap IT department/System Administrator? Do you blame your browser because your broadband line is slow?"

            No - I am blaming MS for allowing crap IT people to be able to administer their shite, and to be honest, there is so much AV and anti-this/anti-that stuff that needs to be run on MS machines now it is bordering on useless functionality. I mean, 8/9 minute boot up time. How much does that cost Industry?

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. werdsmith Silver badge

              8/9 minute boot up time

              I mean, 8/9 minute boot up time. How much does that cost Industry?

              That's not normal. 2 or 3 minutes is long.

              Even my encrypted laptop is usable in about 90 seconds. Maybe your DC is under pressure and at the wrong end of a slow WAN link or summat.

            3. Vince

              Re: Windows on Linux next?

              weird because I measure my Windows, Domain Joined, Group Policied boot up time in seconds...

              What are you on about?

        2. Hans 1

          Re: Windows on Linux next?

          >the thing sits there for 5 minutes "Loading Group policy printers policy...".

          Lucky you, my WIndows 8.1 has been searching for a driver for a DCP-357C, the scanner part, for approx THREE DAYS, and it won't take Cancel ... I could kill it, but it is not really eating any resources, a % or two CPU time, from time to time ... It was the second time I asked it to have a look, to make sure ... Brother website says "limited functionality" (including scanner support) is available on Windows 8.1 with built-in drivers, in Windows 7 it worked great. Maybe I should try ritual incantations ...

          Note that I setup a raspian printer/scanner server with that printer, no hassle.

        3. Vince

          Re: Windows on Linux next?

          Ask the IT people to do things properly and fix that then.

          Your problem has sod all to do with how good or bad Windows is, and everything to do with how badly configured your admins have implemented Group Policy.

      2. Fatman

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        <quote>The thought of 'the Registry' on linux just makes me want to throw up.</quote>

        Then I would have to guess that you haven't heard of systemd????

    2. Brian Miller

      Re: Windows on Linux next?

      Microsoft could have released a Linux distro ages ago. After all, they had Xenix. But no, they're really good at going with a really half-arsed OS. But since they've come out with Windows 8 and 10, Linux now has a real opening because that new UI is so miserable to use!

      Would Windows applications benefit from running on Linux? Yes! Part of my job long ago involved testing Windows products on Linux, under Wine. The installs took a fraction of the time that they did on Windows, and the applications ran much faster. People can joke about "Penguinistas" all they like, but benchmarks with extreme differences should make people notice.

      Apple has shown that *nixes can be usable by the masses, and be the cool and "in" thing.

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        > Microsoft could have released a Linux distro ages ago. After all, they had Xenix.

        When Microsoft sold Xenix to Santa Cruz Operation the deal included a 'no compete' clause which restricted MS to not releasing another *NIX operating system. Now that the descendants of SCO are finally dead they may be free of that contractual obligation*.

        * not that it stopped them in the past.

    3. toughluck

      Re: Windows on Linux next?

      Why would they build Windows on a Linux kernel? What would be the benefit? Windows 8 was a major rewrite, some libraries were written from scratch, and as a result, Windows 8 beyond is faster, more stable and more responsive than 7 was, to the point that I'm considering buying Windows 10 and a full rebuild of my desktop (the one thing holding me back is a rather large RAID setup that I have no good way of backing up, although I realize I could replicate my Linux install including mdadm in Virtualbox with access to raw disks).


      What I would appreciate a lot more is a GNOME (or rather MATE)-like desktop metaphor to replace explorer in Windows. Unless if it would involve Xorg as a display server ;-)


      Nevertheless, I do expect at some point Microsoft will come up with Office for Linux and with a better implementation of Wine -- donating certain binary libraries to wine while acknowledging copyright, much like MS core fonts, but with full Microsoft backing.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: I do expect at some point Microsoft will come up with Office for Linux

        Linux is STILL absolutely nowhere on the desktop. And this doesn't seem to be changing. It's the servers where making Linux software makes sense.

        1. Whistlerspa

          Re: I do expect at some point Microsoft will come up with Office for Linux

          'Linux is still absolutely nowhere on the desktop.'

          Well it's on my desktop for starters!

          1. BobChip

            Add some more desktops

            And all 3 here (home) plus about 30 (work). Just thought I'd mention it.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        Oh No!

        Do I have to get rid of that disk hog Midori XFCE and buy a multiterrorbitten lizard skin to go with my old emachine?

        Do you promise me it will be nearly as fast as the old screw?

      3. Michael Habel

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        The pro, contra of things of such taste as the GUI, to me seem quite trite, and secondary to the larger problems of personal Privacy, and not being spammed with Tomb Raider Ads.... Perhaps if MicroSoft ever get 'round to conceding a loss here, and return to somethin a bit saner pre Windows 8.X. I might revisit my decision again. For now it's Linux (Cinnamon Mint), full steam ahead!

    4. Pirate Dave Silver badge

      Re: Windows on Linux next?

      I thought years ago - Linux had a good kernel with a "meh" GUI, Windows had a lackluster kernel and a decent GUI (at least 2000 and XP). Too bad we couldn't mix-n-match to get the best of both worlds. But so much sub-surface plumbing would have to be redone to get the Windows GUI to run on Linux, it's probably not worth the effort. Would be very interesting to see such a creature, though.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Windows on Linux next?

        'Linux had a good kernel with a "meh" GUI'

        Other GUIs were available.

    5. TJD

      Re: Windows on Linux next?

      No need. You already can with KVM.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Daniel 2, 31-33. I repeat: Daniel 2, 31-33

    And who do you think built the giant lower limbs? Stevie "Developers^3" Ballmer.

  5. Shane Sturrock

    MS going backwards

    The only way MS could be looking at Linux in the rear view is if they're reversing which seems about right. Windows is no longer threatened because it is a dying platform. MS is moving their software stack to a platform that has a future and they will eventually be like any other software provider without the power to control the operating system we all use.

  6. Ami Ganguli

    What's the use case for this?

    Is there anybody here who would actually use this product? If so, what would be the reason?

    As a Linux/Unix person, I've never worked in a Microsoft shop, so I don't know how they think, but the places I've worked have never used MS SQL Server and wouldn't have any incentive to try it out.

    I imagine a Microsoft shop with a bunch of Windows admins already on staff isn't going to go out install Linux for this either.

    So who's the customer?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: What's the use case for this?

      Azure clients running Linux would be a great example of a good target market (is this common?) Clients who are interested in .NET on Linux would be another though these are probably rare (for now).

      Any sensible company who finds their options for a serious DB have just increased should investigate, it's not like there are loads of options as it is.

      And then there are companies who use a mix of technologies.

    2. ozmark

      Re: What's the use case for this?

      We have customers that have moved to Linux for their app servers but are a MSSQL shop so DB is still on Win. This would be a no-brainer for them.

      Our customers with Linux DB's are all Oracle (insurance, finance), I'm sure some of them would love an alternative, at least at contract renewal time.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What's the use case for this?

        "Our customers with Linux DB's are all Oracle (insurance, finance), I'm sure some of them would love an alternative, at least at contract renewal time."

        That doesn't seem likely. There have been alternatives all along so I don't see why they'd swap to SQL Server if they haven't already swapped to Informix, DB2, Postgres etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's the use case for this?

      Good comment - this is what I thought - why would GNU/Linux ~ Unix people want to run MS stuff on *nix boxes anyway? If somebody needs to run it, they run MS stuff.

      OK, so if MS think they can get away with getting *nix users to run their stuff, then more licences etc., but how that does work out?

      This is surely the first move - embrace.

  7. John Sanders

    MS-SQL on Linux

    Is only good for one thing only.

    Postgres and MariaDB will look at themselves and think, what does do MS-SQL do that we don't.

    And probably will implement some if not most of it.

    I just do not know who the customer for this is going to be... are they going to heavily discount it on Linux?

    Are telcos going to stop using Oracle and then run MS-SQL on very large databases?

    What is the market for this?

    1. Hans 1

      Re: MS-SQL on Linux

      >Are telcos going to stop using Oracle and then run MS-SQL on very large databases?

      MS SQL Server CANNOT COPE with large db's, has no active-active clustering support, abysmal HA-support, who in their right mind would use that on "very large" db's???

      Again, if you do not know either Oracle or DB2, your opinion DOES NOT COUNT.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Let's be honest!

    Balmer is a bigger embarrassment than Microsoft Bob

    1. Hans 1

      Re: Let's be honest!

      Zune, xbox ONE, Windows Phone, Windows Me, XP, Vista, Seven, 8, 8.1, 10, and SQL Server are bigger embarrassments than Ballmer ... just sayin'

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Let's be honest!

      Balmer is a bigger embarrassment than Microsoft Bob

      I'm not Ballmer fan, but look at dividend and stock price growth during his tenure. He did a great job for shareholders, of which he remains the largest.

      Yes, he bought AQuantive, Skype and Nokia all of which subsequently saw massive write downs. Yes he was responsible for Windows 8 (but also Windows 7, which is standard for enterprises) and he also poured resources into enterprise products that we seldom hear about but which are healthy business units. He also made resources available for Azure and got out of the hot seat once he realised that he was making more bad decisions than good ones. The board and thus the shareholders never asked him to leave. That they took so long to find a replacement says a lot about how unprepared they were.

      Yes, MS is losing market share to mobile devices but it's still making a tidy profit and exploring new ways of making money.

  9. Bob Vistakin

    See, here's the deal with todays Microsoft

    There's a glaringly obvious pattern everyone seems to be ignoring. Back in their day, people *had* to use Microsoft for pretty much everything, so choosing them, no matter how much it stuck in their throats, was a no brainer. They exploited their position and killed all rivals because, well they could, and could get away with it too, right down to writing off fines from the competition authorities as operating costs.

    Today though people do have a choice, and whoopie doo, if it don't turn out that every time they have, they say no to Microsoft. Mobile? No thanks, we're ok with your competitors. Browsers? Well, we could use the one you bundle and is instantly available, but we'd genuinely prefer all the trouble of installing another. Cloud? Servers? Same deal. It can't be just a co-incidence. Could it be the decision makers of today remember being shat on yesterday, and it's time to say hello to Lady Karma?

    The new Android has split screens, and we're seeing more and more desktop spins. I'd give it a couple more releases - about the time ChromeOS does the full merge - before it's launched as a full-on desktop Windows competitor. It already has 85% mobile share, so it's not exactly starting from scratch. Of course, being always based on Linux means a headless server spin must be a doddle for the Google smarts, as are the incremental refinements needed to Google Docs to prise the remaining Office users away.

    No wonder we're seeing all these desperate turnarounds. They are trying to "regain" the hearts and mind of the users they never had in the first place. The writing's on the wall - potty mouth might be yesterdays man, but his new gang can't undo the carnage he's left them with, no matter how many chairs they scramble to put back in place.

  10. HAL-9000
    IT Angle

    Barmy Ballmer

    Does anyone really take note of Steve, other priceless quotes, and I shit you not:

    "I don't really know that anybody's proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value."

    "Google’s not a real company. It’s a house of cards."

    "I'm going to f---ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f---ing kill Google."

    My favourite- "There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Barmy Ballmer

      Ballmer was always as certain as he was wrong. Satya, given the dysfunction he was handed, has done remarkably well IMO.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    The more he talks, the more credibility he loses...

    If there's one thing becoming obvious now it should be the issue of Ballmer talking the talk which is "best for business". Heck, I don't care if he dislikes or hates Linux; we're all entitled to our own opinion. Even nutjobs like Steve Ballmer. But at least try to ensure that it doesn't cloud your business issues.

    Like when some Microsoft devs. demonstrated how they expanded on virtualisation which allowed Windows Server to natively run Linux. This isn't an issue of being in favor or either OS, it's merely looking at the effort people put in to make this work. Yet here we have Ballmer who couldn't share his disdain for Linux again with commenting that it "looked ugly" to him. Must have been fun for those developers; getting their work "praised" like that.

    So yeah; now that Microsoft is operating more on the Linux area all of a sudden it's becoming "different". Such a transparent fail...

    1. Mark 85

      Re: The more he talks, the more credibility he loses...

      I think it's the other way around. When Ballmer speaks, everyone goes "WTF?" and looks for opposite. Maybe this is just a market strategy? Ballmer speaks that "Linux is great" and everyone rolls their eyes and signs the contract for the MS stuff.

      Then again.... stranger things have happened and he might actually believe what he's saying or looking to sell of his stock before the price tanks.

  12. arctic_haze

    "in the rear-view mirror"

    Like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park?

    The only difference is that Microsoft is driving in reverse gear.

    And remember: Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear,

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: "in the rear-view mirror"

      Of course it's in the rear view mirror for Ballmer, he's taken the off ramp to owning a sports team, all that Win/Linux/Apple/phone/tablet/PC kerfuffle is behind him now.*

      Today he's happily sportsing away with his sports team, making sportsing decisions while his sports team sports the sport, getting points doing the thing.**

      *Aside from sitting on the other side of the stockholder's table chanting, "Dividends, dividends, dividends!"

      **I neither know nor care whether it's the sport that bounces the ball, kicks the ball, or hits it with a stick.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows will die out in commerce in 15-20 years. Nobody is building cloud services with Windows other than private systems to support current applications. You would have to be mad now to design in Windows server or SQL Server for anything new.

    The cloud has forced Linux to mature - it's given it a focus and reason for being. I speak as a Windows server fan - it's been a fantastic product for the last 20 years whilst Linux became established but now, the technical reach it offers and the capabilities it offers for very low cost will wipe Windows server out of the mainstream server/cloud market for good.

    As for SQL Server - if you're writing a new product why would use use SQL Server or Oracle ? You'd use a Linux DB product.

    All you need to do is look at the SPLA costs for using Windows and SQL Server compared to the cost of using Linux, even supported Redhat - Microsoft have finally lost the game and Ballmer knows it so pretends it's the other way round. Amazing.

    Microsoft will be left scrabbling about for the tablet/laptop market and what's left of desktops but there's little revenue left there compared to what they've been used to. I bet Azure uses Linux !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Most of the Azure services run on Windows... you can select Linux if you choose. I don't think the cloud has forced anything new from an OS perspective. People have been running Linux for over a decade on servers. They were likely running those workloads on Unix prior to Linux. If people didn't want to run Windows Server, they have had other several other options from the start.

      Oracle runs on Linux and has for a long time, SQL will run on Linux.

  14. Bob Vistakin

    Bill Gates now thinks Ballmer is an asshole

    Read whats really being said here.

    “Personality change leads to market perception change,” he said. He acknowledged that he and his predecessor, Bill Gates, are no longer close.

    Microsoft shares lost more than 40 percent of their value in the time between Ballmer’s appointment and the announcement in 2013 that he would resign.Since Nadella took over in February 2014, shares have risen more than 50 percent.

    1. HAL-9000

      Re: Bill Gates now thinks Ballmer is an asshole

      In Gates' defense you cannot criticise his loyalty over the years, even when Barmy was knifing him in the back. Uncle Bill was always supportive, read any decent biog to get a flavour. Even Steve's sports investment efforts were lack lustre, I sympathise with his yoga coach he has one challenging pupil. ;)

  15. BurnT'offering

    Windows won, Linux lost

    Lost as in powering every Android device. Throw in all the Mac and iOS devices running a UNIX derivative ... Yeah, Steve, keep telling yourself your team won

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Running MS code on Linux?

    Sure. I always drive around with my handbrake firmly pulled up.

    Just say no.

  17. PhilipN Silver badge

    Of course. They already lost

    A huge chunk of personal and commercial internet activity is now done via Linux (Android) and its cousin iOS (BSD).

    Oh, upward thumb to BurnT'offering who I just noticed already posted the same message.

    1. BurnT'offering

      Re: Of course. They already lost

      Steve Ballmer has downvoted us

  18. regadpellagru

    in the rearview mirror

    "Ballmer is also reported to have described the threat posed to Windows as having already passed. Reportedly speaking at a dinner event this week, Ballmer described the threat to Windows from Linux as now “in the rearview mirror”."

    Yes, Pal, and I can really thank you for that, you've made it happen, baby !

    First, the retarded UI and decisions for W8: make sure no-one else than MS could sell anything on W8. Great ! Gabe Newell lost the plot on this (, which gave birth to SteamOS, at a time where Linux gaming was a myth, and last month, Vulkan.

    Now, we're in 2016, there are already some AAA games on SteamOS (XCOM 2, Borderlands 2, Talos Principle), and probably every single games being developped now is gonna be cross-platform !

    And since games have been the only reason to have Windows in the first place, for personnal users, office tools being available for years on Linux, the only reason to keep Windows is now being eliminated.

    So, yes, it's in the mirror, but 2 years onwards, it will have overtaken.

    1. BurnT'offering

      Re: in the rearview mirror

      Quite right - it's in his rear-view mirror but he's driving in reverse

  19. Anthony Hulse

    Worst. Tech. CEO. Ever.

  20. ParasiteParty
    Big Brother

    What a dumbass...

    "Ballmer is also reported to have described the threat posed to Windows as having already passed. "

    What an idiot. Windows 10 is the biggest single reason I am planning a switch to Apple and Linux based systems as soon as I possibly can.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the whole barrel of monkeys on the desktop

    That's what Ballmer did and they kept the desktop market share. What the one trick pony, also known as Monkey Boy, did was miss the device sector. He did kill off the Palm/PalmOS threat and just in the nick of time too. Palm was just moving out of the handheld and into desktop/countertop devices when Microsoft was paying vendors to ship WinCE instead of Palm.

    Virtualization is so popular because of how crappy Windows is and the need to run so many single service machines, with a backup machine too, was costing corporations a bundle. But it is also virtualization which opened the door in a big way for Linux. The olde LAMP stack in a VM cost the department no money and was quickly shown to be valuable.

    So sure, be proud Steve of your desktop win but the battle is not over because you failed to cover the other markets and especially bailing on WinCE once Palm was destroyed.

  22. ben_myers

    Ballmer's Immense Ego

    Ballmer's immense ego qualifies him as running mate for Donald Trump, or maybe Secretary of State of Trump ever gets elected. Once a windbag, always a windbag.

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