In a perfect world, says Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich, everyone would run Windows. But he’s playing for laughs. Sure, Russinovich wants people to run Windows. As a Microsoft Fellow, he helped build the company’s flagship computer operating system. But like the rest of the rapidly evolving Microsoft, he also realizes that so much of the world now runs Linux, the Windows alternative built by a vast community of open source software coders. In fact, Russinovich says, Linux now drives about 25 percent of the activity on Azure, the Microsoft cloud computing service where businesses can run websites and other software applications without setting up their own computer servers. That’s up from 20 percent in the fall.
Even if he did advocate an all-Windows world, Russinovich knows it will never happen. That’s why Azure now lets businesses run their software on Linux as well as Windows. And it’s why Microsoft is partnering with Docker, the “it” IT company among the world’s elite coders. Docker rose to prominence by offering a way to more efficiently build and run software atop Linux. Now the two companies are now working to extend Docker’s “container” technology to Windows.
This week, Russinovich, now the chief technology officer of Microsoft Azure, spent the day at Docker headquarters in San Francisco, and as part of Microsoft’s ongoing effort to show that it has fully embraced Linux—after years of stiff-arming the open source OS—he and Solomon Hykes, the brain behind Docker, chatted about the Docker-Microsoft partnership with various reporters and analysts. Some have asked whether Microsoft might acquire Docker, and though that seems unlikely, Hykes and Russinovich are certainly pushing for a world where businesses and developers can run Docker containers on both Linux and Windows—something that seemed like a contradiction in terms just a few months ago.