In the last decade, Microsoft’s Windows has gone from a ubiquitous consumer product to only one of many operating environments. In the last decade, Microsoft’s market share has fallen from 97% to a mere 20%. There are two driving forces behind this: the proliferation of cloud-based, high volume computing, and the popularity of mobile devices and tablets. With such incredibly market pressures, it seems only natural that Microsoft is now moving towards embracing, rather than competing against, Linux.
By the Numbers: the Advantage of Linux
The vast majority of home desktop PCs are still running some form of Windows. But many consumers today aren’t using desktop PCs or laptops; they’re using tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices. These devices almost universally operate on iOS or Android platforms rather than Windows-based platforms.
But the difference is even more dramatic when you look at high-performance, high-stability environments. When it comes to servers, the Linux market share is 35.9% compared to the Microsoft Windows market share of 32.3%. Move into supercomputers, and you can see even more disparate numbers: 99.40% of the 500 fastest supercomputers in the world run a Linux-based operating system., and 0% on Microsoft Windows.
Microsoft Has Joined the Linux Foundation
Microsoft recently announced that it has joined the Linux foundation, a move that was unexpected to many within the industry. Among its new initiatives, Microsoft has been attempting to support some of its products directly on Linux environments. These include the SQL Server and the Azure App Service. This is a surprising move given that Microsoft has a directly competing product to many Linux offerings; its Azure cloud-based infrastructure.
However, it’s not entirely out of left field. Microsoft has been moving steadily towards more open source development throughout the past decade, and has displayed an interest in the communities and open source projects of The Linux Foundation. Many believe that open source solutions drive innovation, creating better and more creative project designs.
In addition to embracing Linux, Google has also been welcomed into the Microsoft .NET foundation, forming an alliance between Microsoft and Google which should yield interesting consequences. In the past, Google and Microsoft have historically butted heads in legal matters and have competed for the same spaces. Early this year, however, both companies agreed to concentrate on cooperation and competition, rather than engaging in lengthy battles.
This new collaboration between Microsoft and other independent entities may very well see some unique developments for the industry, including better end consumer products and more opportunities for lateral movement within the tech industry. With fewer concerns regarding being road-blocked by competition, legal matters, and regulatory issues, companies will feel freer to experiment and develop.
The tech industry is constantly changing. Abrupt changes such as the moves recently made by Microsoft may be difficult to anticipate, but they can represent very real opportunities for both technology companies and the employees that work for them. If your business is currently looking for experts in the Microsoft or Linux arena, consider posting to the job listings at Software Specialists.