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

Consumer choice and the payment experience

A software provider's guide to getting, growing, and keeping customers

Download now

Prevent fraud and phishing attacks with DMARC

How to use domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance for email security

Download now

Business in the new economy landscape

How we coped with 2020 and looking ahead to a brighter 2021

Download now

How to increase cyber resilience within your organisation

Cyber resilience for dummies

Download now

Recommended

Trend Micro and Snyk team up to combat open source flaws
vulnerability

Trend Micro and Snyk team up to combat open source flaws

10 May 2021
Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

7 May 2021
Redis closes another round of funding, raking in an additional $110 million
open source

Redis closes another round of funding, raking in an additional $110 million

8 Apr 2021
Six things a developer should know about Postgres
Whitepaper

Six things a developer should know about Postgres

22 Mar 2021

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

16 Jun 2021
Q&A: Enabling transformation
Sponsored

Q&A: Enabling transformation

10 Jun 2021
What is HTTP error 400 and how do you fix it?
Network & Internet

What is HTTP error 400 and how do you fix it?

16 Jun 2021