IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Microsoft admits it was wrong about open source

President Brad Smith says the company was on "the wrong side of history" at the start of the century

Microsoft has admitted it was wrong about open source at the start of the century when it was locked in a fierce battle with Linux.

Speaking at a recent MIT event, the tech giant's president Brad Smith said the company was on the "wrong side" of history "when open source exploded at the beginning of the century.”

In 2001, Steve Ballmer, then Microsoft CEO, described Linux, and open source in general, as "a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches".

The company has changed its stance. Ballmer made slightly softer statements in 2016, suggesting that it was the right position to take at the time, but Smith's confession is a rare admission from one of its senior executives. 

"Microsoft 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," Smith said. "The good news is that, if life is long enough, you can learn... that you need to change."

Microsoft is now the single largest contributor to open source projects in the world. Over the last few years, Microsoft has gradually adopted a number of open source technologies, such as PowerShell, Visual Studio Code and Microsoft Edge's original JavaScript engine. The company's latest version of Edge even adopts code from the open source Chromium project.

Related Resource

Your comprehensive guide to low-code

The missing component of your digital strategy - for developers and CIOs alike

Download now

The tech giant has acquired Xamarin for mobile app development and also partnered with Canonical, bringing Ubuntu to Windows 10. It's continuing to collaborate with open source communities to create PowerToys for Windows 10, which includes its new open design philosophy. As for Linux, the company is shipping a full Linux Kernel in its Windows 10 May 2020 Update, due later this month. 

Its acquisition of GitHub for $7.5 billion in 2018 is arguably its biggest open source venture to date. 

Featured Resources

The Total Economic Impact™ Of Turbonomic Application Resource Management for IBM Cloud® Paks

Business benefits and cost savings enabled by IBM Turbonomic Application Resource Management

Free Download

The Total Economic Impact™ of IBM Watson Assistant

Cost savings and business benefits enabled by Watson Assistant

Free Download

The field guide to application modernisation

Moving forward with your enterprise application portfolio

Free Download

AI for customer service

Discover the industry-leading AI platform that customers and employees want to use

Free Download

Most Popular

Apple patches 'superpower' zero-days affecting iPhones, iPads, and Macs
zero-day exploit

Apple patches 'superpower' zero-days affecting iPhones, iPads, and Macs

18 Aug 2022
Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security
Sponsored

Why convenience is the biggest threat to your security

8 Aug 2022
Google is now spending a staggering amount on blockchain
Business strategy

Google is now spending a staggering amount on blockchain

17 Aug 2022