40 years on, Open Source Windows could happen

microsoft-open-sourceAs Microsoft celebrated its 40th Birthday over the weekend, a debate has started up over whether the company could be moving to an Open Source version of Windows.

Top exec Mark Russinovich, who is one of the company’s leading engineers said it is a “new Microsoft” and an open source Windows was definitely possible.
Russinovich helped build Windows, and he carries one of the most respected titles at the world’s largest software company: Microsoft Technical Fellow.

Talking to ChefConf he said that few companies run one stop shops and many Microsoft customers—are now relying on open source code.

“That means Microsoft must embrace it too. Microsoft allows Linux on its Azure cloud computing service, a way of renting computers over the internet, and today, Linux is running on at least 20 percent of those computers,” he said.

Russinovich said it was necessary, and given how popular Linux has become, Microsoft could go even further, not only allowing open source software on its cloud services, but actually turning Windows into open source software.

“Every conversation you can imagine about what we should do with our software—open versus not-open versus services—has happened,” he says.

Microsoft is already giving away one version of Windows for free and although not sharing the underlying code, it has also open sourced other important pieces of its software empire.

If Vole open sourced Windows, the code would be easier to test, shape, and build into something else. And if the OS is more widely used, that means a bigger audience for the Microsoft applications that run on Windows.

In the end, Russinovich says, this will help Microsoft sell other stuff. The OS would still make money because business would still need a vendor who can package, distribute, and update the OS.