Microsoft, not known for playing nice with anyone, has made a surprising about-face: they’ve released Linux kernel modules under the GNU Public License. That’s right: the company that’s been trying to scare businesses away from Linux and GPL code for years — remember in 2001 when Steve Ballmer called Linux a cancer? — has just released GPL code of its own. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
The kernel modules allow Linux to operate fully in a Microsoft Hyper-V virtualized environment. This is big news because it demonstrates that Microsoft finally realizes that its customers do, in fact, run Linux. There’s no doubt that this is not a charitable move from Microsoft to ingratiate itself into the free software community: this is purely a business move to make Hyper-V a more attractive virtualization solution than VMWare, or Xen, or KVM. For predominantly Microsoft shops, Hyper-V is probably the preferred virtualization solution, and the previous lack of Linux support might have been a real bummer. I actually don’t know, myself. I run and support VMWare because they’ve support Linux for much longer.
Don’t expect to see GPL releases for any other Microsoft products any time soon, though.