In a move which is both historic and unexpected, the Redmond giant – and purveyors of well-known proprietary operating systems – submitted driver source code to be included in the Linux kernel, licensed under the permissive open source GNU Public License.
Specifically, Microsoft contributed 22,000 lines of code which make up four drivers that provide hooks for any Linux distribution to run on Windows Server 2008 and its Hyper-V hypervisor virtualisation technology.
This means the drivers are not used unless running on top of a Windows Server 2008 platform and consequently do not come into play on “regular” non-virtualised installations.
Nevertheless, it is a move that shows greater recognition of Linux with previous Microsoft virtualisation technologies favouring Windows-based guest operating systems over any other flavour.
Additionally, it could be argued that Microsoft has gained a strategic edge over virtualisation competitor VMWare, with Linux now having built-in support for Windows Server 2008 hosts.
The code has already been accepted and will definitely become part of the next Linux kernel. Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux driver project lead, stated Microsoft “abided by every single rule and letter of what we require to submit code.”
Microsoft's contribution will be obtainable in the public tree release within the next 24 hours. Like all first-time kernel submitters, Microsoft’s code will be part of the kernel’s staging tree before moving into the main tree.