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Microsoft will surprise in 2015

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | Jan. 2, 2015
As the company seeks new ways to grow, it is likely to explore things once unthinkable for it.

OK, it's not exactly a jolt to say that Microsoft is going to pay more attention to the cloud. But how about this for a surprise? It's going to make nice with Linux. Don't take it from me. This is what CEO Satya Nadella had to say this year: "I love Linux."

Now, there's a break with the past for you. But why would Nadella say that?

Again, it's the cloud and services. Microsoft knows for a fact that businesses want Linux servers on their clouds, and so that's what Microsoft is delivering via Azure.

I'm not saying we're going to see a desktop release of something with a name like MS-Linux, but an MS-Linux for the cloud isn't out of the question at all.

I really can see it.

I can also see 2015 being the year that Microsoft finally buries the hatchet with Red Hat, the leading enterprise server Linux distributor. On Azure, Microsoft already supports CoreOS, Oracle Linux, openSUSE, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server and CentOS. But to really get Linux customers on board it needs to support Red Hat Enterprise Linux as well. And 2015 will be the year it happens.

Of course, Microsoft's old proprietary ways would make MS-Linux on Azure a tough sell. The open-source crowd has never wanted anything to do with that Microsoft. That's why it's significant that Microsoft is getting more involved in open-source development.

Sure, there are limits it's not about to cross. I mean, you're never going to see Microsoft open-source Windows. (And I hate to think how the open-source community would react to the deplorable state of that code.) But Microsoft is opening newer products, such as Project Orleans for Halo and .Net for servers. That's kind of amazing.

So the real story from Microsoft in 2015 won't be Windows 10. Oh, it will get the headlines, some of them on stories that I'll write. But the real news, the news that will change the bottom line, will be in clouds, services and open source.

That's a big deal. What it means is that Microsoft 2015 will no longer be the company that Bill Gates made and Steve Ballmer almost ruined. It's a whole new Microsoft, and I, for one, will be very interested in seeing how it all works out.


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