Microsoft Once Called Linux “a Cancer” – Now It’s the Best Friend That Will Help Beat MacBooks

Rafia Shaikh
microsoft Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 wsl2

Microsoft announced its updated Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2) at its Build 2019 conference, which now includes a full custom-built Linux kernel. WSL allows Windows users to run the full version of Linux on their Windows 10 machines. The company said the in-house Linux kernel based on Linux 4.19 will "reduce boot time, streamline memory use, improve filesystem I/O performance, and will run Docker containers natively so that a VM is no longer needed for containers on Windows." All of this effectively translates into a better life for developers because now they will be running Linux directly on Windows without having everything filtered through the Windows kernel.

While this appeared to be another effort from the Windows maker to warm up to Linux, a report from Business Insider reveals that the company is looking to pry developers away from Apple's ecosystem because even at Microsoft itself, many software developers had started favoring Apple's machines over Windows.

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"Indeed, go to any developer event or startup office, and it's common to see row after row of MacBook, and not a Windows machine in sight," the publication reports. Kevin Gallo, corporate VP of Windows Developer Platform told BI that "WSL was a major hit among developers" and has over 3.5 million active users.

"It eclipsed every announcement we had. It blew our numbers away. Wow, there are a lot of people who care. It was a good wakeup for us. We speculated there would be interest, but there was a lot more interest than I thought."

The ultimate goal is to win over developers who are Apple users by making Windows 10 "the best operating system on which to develop software."

"We think once we deliver all of this [WSL2 in summer] ... we'll be a superior experience to what you can get on a Mac."

"A lot of cloud developers had to use Mac," Gallo said. "One of the things we have not tried to do is say, because you work at Microsoft, you have to use Windows. If we're not good enough to win our own people, then we have to win our people." The company isn't only making things easier and attractive for developers on Windows 10 but it has also promised to make all the changes it makes to the WSL kernel open source.

While Microsoft wasn't a fan of Linux in the Steve Ballmer days, Satya Nadella did bring more tolerance for Linux in the company. Gallo said that "Satya's vision is to meet developers where they're at because that's how the community works."

[More at Business Insider]

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