I’ve written here a couple of times about the apparent softening of Microsoft’s traditionally hostile attitude toward open-source software: its abandonment of the Windows Live Spaces blogging platform, and the migration of users to WordPress; and, more recently, its announcement that it would back the open-source Hadoop project for “big data”.
Ars Technica now has a short article describing another step in this evolution. It has been reported that a forthcoming edition of Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing offering, will include support for virtual machines [VMs] running the Linux operating system.
Microsoft is preparing an expansion of the Windows Azure virtual machine hosting technology that will let customers run either Windows or Linux virtual machines, as well as applications like SQL Server and SharePoint.
(Ars references an article at ZDNet, by Mary Jo Foley, as a source for this.) The change will apparently be part of a larger enhancement to VM facilities in Azure, which will allow the use of VMs with persistent state, something Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud allows. The original Azure offering was aimed at application development specifically for that environment; the enhanced VM capabilities will make it considerably easier for existing applications to be run on the platform without extensive modification. Apparently this, and the capability to run Linux, has been a common request from large potential customers.
This is another piece of evidence that Microsoft’s past dominance of the computing scene is, well, past.