Home opinion-and-analysis The Linux Distillery Linus Torvalds joins Microsoft next-gen OS team, quits Linux

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In a move certain to surprise, shock and even anger many, the creator of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, today signed up as Chief Software Architect with Microsoft to work on the Redmond Giant's next-generation operating system with Dave Cutler.

Microsoft human resource officer April Foley told iTWire, 'it's certainly a coup for Microsoft. We've been in discussions with Linus for several months negotiating the fine terms of his contract leading up to today's signing.'

Torvalds is best known for creating the Linux kernel in 1991, which along with free software produced by the GNU foundation, became the Linux operating system we know today.

For almost two decades Torvalds has maintained the Linux kernel, sponsored by the Linux Foundation, and managing contributions from companies and developers worldwide.

'It was time to grow up and get a real job,' Torvalds said. 'I'm excited about the chance to really innovate and make an operating system with Microsoft. I want to see my work in the hands of the majority this time around.'

Torvalds will be working with Dave Cutler, the chief architect behind Windows NT who Microsoft similarly poached from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) and who was behind the VAX/VMS operating system.

Asked how he could reconcile working with Microsoft after long being a staunch open source advocate Torvalds said he did not see any conflict of interest. 'Linux will continue to exist without me, and that's the beauty of open source. Meanwhile, I hope to push Microsoft from the inside to make a free entry-level version of the new OS we're creating. I think open source is out of the question though.'

No details about the project are yet available, but given Cutler's recent work on Windows Azure it's possible it will be a cloud-centric operating system.

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.

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