Microsoft : free for azurer the future

Linux on Windows ? This oxymoron has become clear with the presentation of the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in 2016. Over the initial surprise, the curiosity turned into a frank sympathy. Microsoft is trying to appeal to developers, at a time when some of them criticize the indecisiveness of Apple, which promises a new Mac Pro for the past two years. With one objective : to sell them their services.

Image Microsoft.

Under the leadership of Satya Nadella, Microsoft has made the herald ofopen source. It has opened up whole areas of Windows, starting with the runtime .NET. The firm of Redmond has joined the Foundation Linux as a ” platinum member “, the highest level of involvement and financial support. It has disbursed $ 7.5 billion to provide GitHub, which is home to 100 million of projects created by 36 million developers.

When the first preview of the WSL 2 will be released next month, it will feature a Linux kernel within Windows. In its current incarnation, the WSL is a compatibility layer in charge of translating the calls to the API of the Linux kernel by calls to the API of the Windows NT kernel, and thus to run Linux applications on Windows. It is, in some sense, the inverse of Wine, which allows running Windows applications on macOS and GNU/Linux distributions.

This approach is relatively familiar, but rather wobbly. The WSL has been designed by Microsoft engineers for the needs of Windows : when they are not completely ignored, some of the API of Linux are implemented in a manner very fragmentary. To make matters worse, this approximation is based on an old version of the Linux kernel, released in January 2016. Finally, its performance collapses when communicating with the file system and the ports.

All these problems are resolved with the WSL 2 : the latest version LTS of the “true” kernel Linux will be run in a virtual machine. This kernel will be ” optimized “ and got rid of unnecessary functions in the context of virtualization, such as support for hardware, but Windows will win and all the features of Linux. The WSL 2 will be able to run containers Docker, and the access to the file system should be between five and twenty times faster.

Microsoft will comply with the terms of the GNU GPL, and, therefore, will donate all of its changes. Just consider this : the firm of Redmond will contribute to the development of Linux, updating the kernel through Windows Update, and continue to provide distributions of GNU/Linux in the Microsoft Store. It is far from the time when Steve Ballmer called Linux a” cancer “, for the same reasons today for Apple to drop all of the components covered by the GNU GPL license !

The announcement of the WSL 2 is logically monopolised the media coverage of the Build conference 2019, to the point of concealing that of the new application the Windows Terminal, which will replace the ancient command prompt, command line, and whose code is open source. Finally, 21 years after his conviction for having abused its dominant position to impose Internet Explorer, Microsoft has decided toabandon its own web-rendering engine, for the benefit of the engine open-source Blink.

When he says, hand on heart, that ” Microsoft loves Linux “, Satya Nadella is probably sincere. But sincerity does not a good business sense, and Microsoft is not investing in theopen source pure loss. The fact is that the WSL is a real call to developers. ” For many developers, including myself “, said Owen Williams, ” [he] has laid the groundwork for the abandonment of the macOS in favor of Windows, ensuring that the majority of your development environment works as expected. “

Linux in Windows as an alternative to macOS ? You might be tempted to ignore the statements of the former developer, now specialized journalist, known as one of the most biting criticism of the strategy of Apple. ” The range of machines under macOS is a disaster “, said Williams, which documents his return in Windows for the past two years. But you’d be wrong : this feeling is widespread among this small group of professionals who felt abandoned, like the Mac mini and the Mac Pro, or even betrayed, after the reliability problems of the keyboard of the MacBook Pro.

“The Mac has dominated the web development for a decade “, said Marco’s Arm , “but over the years lost by Apple to be neglected and scare the pros, Microsoft has put the foot on the accelerator. “ The developer of the podcast Overcast point out the problems of equipment reliability : a” review of the MacBook Pro, the computer that has drawn us to the Mac, is step zero of the reconquest of web developers. “

“All web developers are moved on to what was still called OS X in the years 2000 “, adds the developer and podcaster Casey Liss, ” because we could rotate all of the tools locally and natively. And the keyboards worked. It seems that we will soon be able to do the same thing on Windows. Where the keyboards work. “ ” Windows is in the process of becoming a serious competitor to OS X [sic] for the development in the cloud, at a time where the users of MacBook Pro, ask to be crying out for keyboards functional “, sums up Alex Stamos, a former security officer of the information systems Facebook.

But this is not (only) a matter of keyboards. ” The Mac was different, gleaming, an enticing mix of power and refinement “, explains Rui Carmo, who was looking for ” a UNIX-based workstation powerful “ and ” a super hardware that “just works” “. Today a developer at Microsoft, the author of the site The Tao of Mac uses Windows machines, as well as the WSL :

After you have configured the [WSL] and subjugated Dockworker suddenly slaps (as I have partially automated), it remains for me very little adjustments to make when I switch to a new machine […]. I think Apple should be terrified. All the friction points, and all the instabilities that I had been pushed to the Mac, have practically disappeared […], and the material is clearly ”more correct”, so… why use a Mac then ? Loyalty ? Courage ? Better integration with iOS ? Honestly, I don’t know.

Amplified by a few tweets and a few ” influencers “, these examples could suggest that the Mac users are moving to Windows by the thousands. But there is talk of the developers, a tiny customer in a market the size of which is reduced year by year, and whose Apple — good year, bad year — continues to nibble units. There is therefore no danger in delay, but there is something wrong. ” Microsoft is progressing in its offensive against macOS “, said the developer lyonnais Damien Petrilli, attacking ” exactly ” where it hurts : the development “.

This is better than that : developers with the WSL, young adults with the range Surface Pro, professional graphic design with the Surface Studio, Microsoft attack all prescribers. And even the journalists, by multiplying the events presented by figures affable. It reminds you of something ? It is normal, it is neither more nor less than the strategy employed by Apple in the years 2000 with OS X, recovery by Google in early 2010 with Android.

In the absence of the ability to impose its proprietary software, Microsoft is adopting theopen source with open arms. The big bad archidominateur became a sympathetic outsider. Apple and Google had Microsoft as a contremodèle, Microsoft uses Apple and Google as a counter-example. The big mouths that are the developers and the journalists impose a new narration. Microsoft is back, this time for the good of the industry.

But also for his own good — what we don’t object to it. Apple has released Darwin/XNU for better lock it in iTunes and then iCloud. Google has released Android to better lock in its services funded by targeted advertising. In both cases, it is to give up the control that one can exert on a component, unmarked, for better control of services with high added value. Microsoft hasn’t fought in a decline in the market of the PC : it accompanies it by changing the purpose of Windows.

Visual Studio Code to code, GitHub for collaboration, Windows Terminal for controlling its usual tools, Linux for the turn… and after ? After that, there’s Azure, the cloud platform of Microsoft. We sometimes forget, but Satya Nadella has declared his love of Linux over the course of a presentation of the cloud of Microsoft. The strategy “post-PC” from Microsoft, it is the PC as a development platform, app cloud.

The choice of Linux is a compelling logic : all of the cloud competitors are running under Linux, the major distributions of GNU/Linux have their own cloud, the majority of developers are using tools designed for UNIX systems. The firm of Redmond ” loves Linux “… to better compete with ! Microsoft has adopted Linux, Microsoft is going to extend Linux. Microsoft will smother it, to follow his famous slogan ? This is the main question : opening a window does not close the door.