What if Microsoft® Windows Azure is actually what Microsoft calls “piracy”?
Summary: Microsoft cannot rely on Windows anymore, so it takes GNU/Linux code and puts its own brand on it, without even releasing the changes (as per the GPL’s requirements)
THOSE who pay careful attention to details and have fairly good memory can still recall that Microsoft had violated the terms of the GPL before it finally compiled. This happened at least once if not twice around the time Microsoft assaulted Linux to promote its proprietary hypervisor (obviously with back doors as Windows is a requirement) and later, just shortly afterwards, lifted some social media code. To Microsoft, GPL is still like “cancer”, to borrow the words of Microsoft’s CEO at the time. Microsoft is just trying to find a way to live with (or co-exist) with “cancer”.
There have been many reports that mostly emanate from Microsoft’s own, self-promotional claims. The Register has one of the earliest reports about this, followed by some Linux sites which asked the right questions, such as: “We don’t yet know when and if Microsoft will release the source code of the project and which licence they will use for it; the Linux kernel is licenced under GNU GPLv2, so it has to be a compatible licence.”
Various news sites twisted the story, if not just in the headlines, then in the body too. Microsoft boosters took this the furthest [1, 2] and rather than admit that Microsoft is more or less defeated by GNU/Linux (at the server level at least), they tried to belittle the importance of these revelations, which would inevitably have come out (Microsoft chose a ‘controlled’ release of the news). “Microsoft has built a Linux-based operating system” was the headline of one such report, but another way to put it is, Microsoft built its proprietary framework using GPL-licensed code from Linux. When will we see the source code and what does it say about Microsoft’s appreciation of its own code, which is obviously unfit for purpose in such complex environments of a very large scale?
To put the story in just one sentence, Microsoft realised that its own code/workforce is unable to put together a reliable hosting platform, so it turned to Linux, took some “cancer” it liked, then put its “Windows” and “Azure” branding on the whole lot. That’s ‘innovation’ the Microsoft way (there are many prior examples) and it may actually — for now at least — be a violation of copyright law. So who’s the “pirate”? █