The idea of Windows going open source may have been unthinkable five years ago, but with the change in leadership “anything is possible”, according to Microsoft engineer and Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich.
Speaking at ChefCon, Russinovich claims Microsoft is revitalized with Satya Nadella at the helm. Nadella has been focused on turning Microsoft into a services and cloud company, becoming more platform agnostic and lowering the barriers to entry for customers.
Nadella’s overarching plan is to make people love Windows again, similar to the Apple philosophy of customers loving its products. By offering services at a fair price to all is the start of a good relationship between Microsoft and the consumer in Microsoft’s view.
To win over developers, Microsoft might have to bite the bullet and take Windows open source. Russinovich concedes this is unlikely to happen any time soon, but talks inside Microsoft have happened and continue to happen on the potential for open source Windows.
Open source would allow third party developers to create new operating systems using the underlying code. This would be a risk for Microsoft but if it controls the price, it might allow them to sell more copies of Windows than it currently can with only one OS.
Linux is the most popular open source desktop OS, the same code that Android is built on. Even though creators believe Linux is the best desktop OS available, there is no real revenue to be made from allowing third parties to have access to the code.
Microsoft recently released Office for Mobile on iOS and Android, alongside dropping the price for Windows 10 for Windows 7 and 8 customers. Microsoft also plans to offer some way for pirates of Windows 7 and 8 to get Windows 10, although it hasn’t confirmed if it will be for free.
These acts of kindness are also laced with the goals of Microsoft in the next decade, focused on pushing its services to as many users as possible. Given it has only three percent mobile market share, it needs to use iOS to Android to keep Microsoft’s services relevant on mobile.