Microsoft gives Hyper-V a GPL twist - releases Hyper-V LinuxIC under GPLv2

Microsoft has given 20,000 lines of device driver code to the Linux community. The move, Microsoft said, will offer better performance for the various Linux distributions when ran virtualized on Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V and Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V. In other related news, Hell is reporting record temperature drops within the last twenty-four hours.

Sam Ramji, Microsoft’s senior director of Platform Strategy in the Server and Tools organization said, “We are seeing Microsoft communities and open source communities grow together, which is ultimately of benefit to our customers… A central part of our strategy is the work done in the OSTC, which we opened about three years ago. The OSTC has a deep technical expertise in Linux, UNIX and open source technologies, along with strong social connections into open source communities.”

“Today’s release would have been unheard of from Microsoft a few years ago, but it’s a prime example that customer demand is a powerful catalyst for change,” he added.

So what exactly was released? How is this related to a sudden deep freeze reported in Hell?

Simple, Microsoft, just two years ago, said that free and open source software (FOSS) violated two hundred thirty-five Microsoft patents, and discussed how they were going to get FOSS users to pay royalties. The news and hype around the two-hundred plus violations amounted to little more than FUD. However, Microsoft did get some FOSS companies to pay up. Xandros, Linspire, and several other companies all signed cross patent licensing deals with Microsoft, which include patent covenants.

So now, when the news came Monday that Microsoft was releasing Linux device driver code to the Linux kernel community, there was a collective gasp from IT and developers within that same community. 

“This is a significant milestone because it’s the first time we’ve released code directly to the Linux community. Additionally significant is that we are releasing the code under the GPLv2 license, which is the Linux community’s preferred license,” said Tom Hanrahan, the director of the OSTC.

“The Linux device drivers we are releasing are designed so Linux can run in enlightened mode, giving it the same optimized synthetic devices as a Windows virtual machine running on top of Hyper-V. Without this driver code, Linux can run on top of Windows, but without the same high performance levels. We worked very closely with the Hyper-V team at Microsoft to make that happen.”

Now, jokes aside, the fact that Hyper-V is going to have stable Linux support is good news. For the longest time analysts have called Hyper-V’s strict link to Windows a weak point. Granting IT shops the ability to take advantage of Hyper-V and still use Linux in the same environment is smart money for Microsoft and a savings for all the administrators who have to pinch pennies.

It’s clear that this is a business move. Microsoft will stand to profit from turning Windows into a hosting setting for IT shops that want to run both the Linux and Windows platforms. However, this announcement also signals that Microsoft agrees that releasing code and making contributions to the open-source software community under the GPL is acceptable. There is no other way to read this news, Microsoft has started to move forward, and everyone will benefit.

Considering the announcement that Office 2010 will support Firefox, another open project, as well as the existing deals with Novell, Microsoft has been making small steps or planning them for some time. However, the day they released GPLv2 code for Hyper-V Linux Integration Components, willingly and without mass pressure or court orders, is a day some hardcore techs will remember for a long time.

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