Microsoft loves Linux: Three Lessons to Live By
While Microsoft’s love affair with Linux isn’t new, Sathya Nadella most likely made a candid revelation for the first time when he said “Microsoft loves Linux” at a media event in 2014. If you’re not familiar with Linux, it’s a computer operating system much better than the Windows family of Server Operating Systems. Linux has many applications such as social media networks, smartphones, and smartwatches, etc. It even runs on all of the top five hundred supercomputers in the world. Due to its success, Linux quickly became Microsoft’s competitor incurring its wrath.
Since then, Microsoft made several attempts to beat Linux into submission but has been unsuccessful. Then in the year 2009, Microsoft contributed 20,000 lines of code to Linux, marking the end of an age-long battle [Source: NetWatch] Today twelve years since that contribution I want to share with you three lessons to live by that I’ve learned from Microsoft’s love for Linux.
Note: I am not an operating system or software licensing expert. If you find any factually inaccurate material in this article, please email me and I will be glad to correct it.
Microsoft loves Linux – Lesson #1: Think twice before speaking Once
“Linux is cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches” (Steve Ballmer, Cofounder – Microsoft Inc.) In simple layman’s terms, Ballmer was saying something like using a component of Linux in the Windows Operating System, will cost Microsoft the right to sell it. He wasn’t wrong but right either. It was simply an inaccurate statement. Ballmer should have done his homework before making such a bold comment.
Ballmer’s comment was soon picked up by the diehard fans of Linux. The Register called him an “incontinent over-stater of facts” – Some even called him a “fool!” Even worse Ballmer’s statement stuck with him. Linux users around the globe ironically recalled his words when he said in 2016, “I might have called Linux cancer, but now I love it.” – The lesson to live by? “Think twice before speaking Once”
Microsoft loves Linux – Lesson #2: Embrace Change if Change is Good
“If you don’t jump on the new, you don’t survive” – told Satya Nadella (CEO – Microsoft Inc.) in 2014 concerning Microsoft’s decision to allow Linux on Azure, its Cloud Computing Platform. History agrees with him. Nokia stubbornly clung to feature phones and its antiquated Symbian operating system, refusing to admit that smartphones are the future. The company ultimately failed and was acquired by Microsoft in 2013.
Microsoft on the other hand realized Linux is the future. Nadella realized the company will soon witness its demise if it kept on pushing Linux away. (Microsoft shares lost more than 40% of their value during Ballmer’s 14-year tenure as the CEO) – all of these indicate a sometimes-painful truth. You cannot resist change and look forward to remaining relevant in an ever-changing world. The lesson to live by? “Embrace Change if Change is Good”
Microsoft loves Linux – Lesson #3: Together Everyone Achieves More
Microsoft’s vision statement says “To help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential” – Its mission statement is “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more” – Microsoft has lived up to this vision and mission by transitioning from being a desktop-first company to a cloud-first company. However, Windows Server has been losing ground to Linux for years. So, Microsoft under Nadella offered not just Linux on Azure but many variations such as CentOS, Debian, Flatcar Container Linux, Oracle Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, openSUSE, and Ubuntu also [Source: Microsoft].
Today Azure is one of the largest cloud computing infrastructures in the world. In March 2016 – two years after Nadella took over in February 2014 Microsoft’s shares increased by more than 50%. It’s a win-win for Microsoft, the rest of the corporate world and the open-source community also. “I don’t want to fight old battles. I want to fight new ones” – He said at a press conference concerning Microsoft’s move. The lesson to live by? “Together Everyone Achieves More”
These three lessons can be summarized in just one line. “Whoever is not against us is for us” – we shouldn’t perceive people who function differently and see things differently as rivalries. We must rather identify and tap into their potential. When we do, we can drive everyone else to achieve greater victories. Being different is not a crime as long as the difference doesn’t require changing the principles of life.
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