Microsoft Had Another Year Of Big Open-Source Surprises

Written by Michael Larabel in Microsoft on 25 December 2018 at 09:30 AM EST. 39 Comments
The past few years have been filled with rather big surprises by Microsoft as it pertains to Linux/open-source. During 2015 they began supporting VP9, open-sourcing more of their projects and began embracing LLVM/Clang while in 2016 they bought out Xamarin, launched SQL Server for Linux, and kept on open-sourcing. Last year was very interesting as well with Microsoft joining the OSI, continuing to advance Windows Subsystem for Linux, and doing more about .NET on Linux. But this year was arguably their most surprising year yet.

2018 was another year filled with big Linux / open-source surprises by Microsoft. Here's a look back at their landmark announcements as it pertains to Linux users:

- Microsoft continued utilizing Git and as part of that what is arguably their biggest open-source announcement of the year... Microsoft bought out GitHub. It will certainly be interesting to see how that plays out in 2019 with Nat Friedman at the helm of the Microsoft-controlled GitHub. The Redmond company also re-released the MS-DOS sources on GitHub.

- Microsoft joined the Open Invention Network and made their 60,000+ patents available. One of the immediate winners of Microsoft joining OIN was ClearType subpixel font rendering coming to Fedora and other more legally conservative distributions.

- Added OpenSSH, Curl, and Tar support to Windows 10. Windows Server 2019 also picked up these commands, OpenSSH support, and now officially supports Windows Subsystem for Linux. Windows Server 2019 also supports Kubernetes.

- They continued adding more distributions to WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). Microsoft also open-sourced a WSL sample to make it easier for other Linux distributions to "port" to WSL and become available via the Microsoft Store. They also added Unix sockets support to WSL, copy / paste support, and other improvements albeit were not able to resolve the most pressing issue still and that is the slow I/O performance when using this Linux binary compatibility layer.

- Microsoft announced their Linux-powered Azure Sphere IoT platform.

- As part of the dominance of Linux on Microsoft Azure, they released their AzCopy software for Linux.

- One of the long overdue changes... Windows Notepad finally supports Unix line endings!

- Microsoft previously brought PowerShell over to Linux while now it's easier to deploy with PowerShell being offered as an Ubuntu Snap.

- It also became possible to profile .NET applications on Linux due to work done by Microsoft in cooperation with LLTng.

- Microsoft open-sourced Shader Conductor as a new graphics shader cross-compiler.

- Earlier this month they also open-sourced Windows Forms, WinUI, and Windows Presentation Foundation.

- They also announced they are rebuilding their Edge browser atop the Chromium engine.

- Lastly and most recently, announced their initial work on a new open-source UEFI alternative derived from TianoCore.

It was quite a wild ride this year for Microsoft and Linux/open-source... What do you hope to see out of Microsoft in 2019? Let us know in the forums.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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