Microsoft’s adoption of Linux today is something that appeared to never be possible only a few years ago. It was not even twenty years ago when Steve Ballmer (CEO of Microsoft at the time) stated that “Linux is a cancer.” Now, fast forward to today and Linux is the #1 OS used in the Microsoft Azure cloud, and Microsoft is shipping the Linux kernel with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) 2. In addition to all the Linux love from Microsoft, they have even been embracing Open Source, including with the acquisition of GitHub and NPM. All of this growth towards Open Source and Linux has been under the leadership of the current Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, and has lead to tremendous growth of the Microsoft Azure cloud and massive increases in Microsoft stock over the last few years.
Disclaimer: To be absolutely clear, Microsoft has not made any announcements regarding an acquisition of Canonical or Ubuntu. This article explores some of the reason why they might do so in the future, and predicts that it’s something that would makes sense for the company going forward. Only executives at Microsoft and Mark Shuttleworth really know if this is something that has actually been discussed or thought about. I do NOT have any insider information what so ever. Please leave a message in the comments telling me what you think about this idea. Thanks!
Should Microsoft Acquire Canonical / Ubuntu?
Sure, Microsoft could easily create their own Linux distribution; similarly to what Amazon has done. However, Ubuntu (made by Canonical) is already the most used Linux distribution within Microsoft Azure. Plus, Microsoft has had some close integration in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) for Windows 10 where even though other Linux distros are supported, it’s clear that Ubuntu is the preferred distribution to use with WSL. Due to this popularity of Ubuntu Linux on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and the tight integration using WSL with Windows 10; it really seems to make perfect sense that if Microsoft wanted their own Linux distribution for the Azure cloud and for Windows 10, Microsoft would choose to continue this relationship to the next level by acquiring the Canonical (the company that makes the Ubuntu Linux distribution.)
Microsoft has even started targeting Linux with it’s desktop software. The release of the Microsoft Teams desktop client application for Linux is the first Microsoft Office application released for Linux. With this release, Microsoft even stated that it’s the “first Microsoft 365 app coming to Linux”. Perhaps we’ll even see Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and others come to run natively on Linux in the near future as well.
This growth of Linux adoption by Microsoft makes it seem that even though the Windows OS will be here for the foreseeable future, it’s becoming clearer that Linux taking over the server market may only be the beginning. Linux is creeping into our desktop and laptop machines slowly more and more. In the future, it may become the dominant operating system for all uses. After all, Linux is in most peoples pockets with Google’s Android OS too. Microsoft acquiring Canonical and Ubuntu may be the best way for Microsoft to stay relevant in the way of operating systems of the future; for both server and desktop use.
Microsoft acquiring Canonical and Ubuntu may be the best way for Microsoft to stay relevant in the way of operating systems of the future; for both server and desktop use.Chris Pietschmann, Founder of Build5Nines.com
Microsoft has continued to invest very heavily in the enterprise and cloud space through Microsoft Azure, Internet of Things (IoT), and other investments. Acquiring Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution in the cloud and across the enterprise, may be the next best move to say relevant in the operating system space. Especially since Windows Server’s marketshare in the cloud (including Microsoft’s own Azure cloud) has been slowly decreasing in favor of Linux and most popularly Ubuntu.
Yes, on a related note, Microsoft has some big partnerships with Red Hat for using Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in Microsoft Azure too. Ubuntu is not the only Linux distribution they’re working with, among others that are supported in Azure as well. However, these partnerships and support of many Linux distributions doesn’t need to really be affected by the acquisition of Ubuntu and Canonical. Those other distributions can still continue to be supported within Azure, so long as enterprises are still relying on them for their cloud-based systems. Although, an even tighter integration of Ubuntu with both Microsoft Azure and Windows 10 could help push forward greater innovations in the ability to run Linux server in the cloud, as well as integrating them into the traditionally Windows-focused networks most enterprises are running today.
It’s worth mentioning that the Linux uses by Microsoft mentioned in this article so far are not the only ventures into embracing Linux that Microsoft has done. They use Linux a lot themselves to host many Microsoft Azure services, contribute to the Linux kernel, use Linux for the Azure Sphere OS for IoT, support Linux for IoT Edge devices with Azure IoT Edge, and much more. This even includes the SONiC open source networking OS based on Linux that runs the switches that power Microsoft Azure’s datacenters. No matter what you think about Microsoft, they have very much become an Open Source and Linux company in recent years. Formally owning their own Linux distribution would take that to the next level, and really cement their position in the Linux space.
The world’s most popular operating system across public clouds and OpenStack clouds.Source: Ubuntu.com
Will Mark Shuttleworth sell to Microsoft?
Canonical’s Ubuntu Linux is not just the most popular Linux distribution in Microsoft Azure. It is the most popular Linux distribution across all clouds, and is the most popular Linux distribution in use today. This is some massive success and the growth of Ubuntu and Canonical puts the company at the forefront of being an interesting acquisition target by companies like Microsoft.
Since Canonical is a privately owned company, they don’t have shares that can be bought up on the stock market for any kind of hostile take over. Plus, for this type of acquisition, Microsoft wouldn’t want to acquire the company that way anyway. As was done peacefully, and great for the community, Microsoft will need to come to some purchase agreement with Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical’s founder.
As a company, Canonical is small enough that Microsoft could easily afford to acquire it. According to Wikipedia, Canonical’s revenue in 2018 was approximately $110 million. I don’t know what the actual acquisition price would be, but it’s likely it would take the form of a combination of cash and Microsoft stock in the realm of somewhere between $770 million and $3.3 billion. Although, given the popularity of Ubuntu, the company is most likely work many times this amount. In reality we could be looking at something more like a $30 billion acquisition.
My estimates of an acquisition price of between $770 million and $3.3 billion are based on the acquisitions of GitHub and LinkedIn. Microsoft acquired LinkedIn at $26 billion which is roughly 7.2x it’s annual revenue at the time. And, Microsoft acquired GitHub at $7.5 billion which is roughly 30x it’s annual revenue at the time. Without knowing more about the finances of Canonical, its seems to reason the acquisition price will be somewhere in the realm of these numbers.
Could Microsoft purchase Canonical for somewhere in between $770 million and $3.3 billion, or more?! Maybe much more is likely given the popularity of Ubuntu, so we could be looking at an acquisition upwards of $30 billion!Chris Pietschmann, Found or Build5Nines.com
Reportedly, Mark Shuttleworth would consider selling Canonical if he were to remain in charge of the company after the acquisition. However, I don’t think a simple acquisition and leave the company “as-is” would be an acquisition Microsoft would be looking to do. Microsoft would likely replace Mark Shuttleworth as CEO. Although, this wouldn’t be a bad thing as I could see Mark’s new role being much more impactful and instrumental in Microsoft growth and future trajectory with Linux. While not running Canonical anymore as CEO, Mark would likely be in charge of Linux at Microsoft. This would probably mean steering Ubuntu innovations, along with Microsoft’s other Linux work such as contributing to the kernel, integration of Linux in Windows 10 WSL, and many other areas across using Linux within Microsoft Azure. This really wouldn’t be just an acquisition of Canonical and Ubuntu, but also an acquisition of the innovative Linux leadership provided by Mark Shuttleworth himself.
Perhaps, Mark and Microsoft could come to an agreement for acquiring Canonical that is much more that just about the purchase price. Also, if you look at the growth and investment Microsoft has been making since the acquisition of GitHub, it makes sense that Microsoft would do the same level of investment in Ubuntu as well; if not more.
What do you think? Should Microsoft acquire Canonical?
If you agree of disagree with the idea that Microsoft should acquire Canonical and the Ubuntu Linux distribution, please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your take on this. Thanks!
When windows is a GNU
Sounds good, but hell naw!
They should not , otherwise after sometime, Ubuntu is not free and open source anymore. I like Ubuntu, I don’t want to be controlled by Microsoft, the taste of open source is then gone.
I’ve always loved having spyware in my operating system. I for one would support an acquisition.
If Microsoft bought Ubuntu or created their own distro, it could be the beginning of the end for Windows. Before anyone scoffs at this, consider that Microsoft Edge now is built upon Chromium. How much further can Windows go from this point? Windows 10 could be the swan song for this OS line.
F no. No no no no. They should stop taking control over things.
No!!! In this instance Microsoft is the cancer.
No way! Just Skype should be enough of an example, completely messed up after Microsoft bought it.
No. Why’d you even think of asking? Don’t let them anywhere near anything open source or they’ll break/monetize it -____-
No way!!! Microsoft has already stolen enough of our freedom and privacy!!!
If you ask me, I think it works be a terrible move for both companies. A vast amount of Ubuntu Desktop users are using Ubuntu in order to ESCAPE from Microsoft, and as such, not only would a great distribution be quickly vacated (along with all of its flavors), one of the simplest distros if Linux becomes a no-fly zone to the community, which thereby nullifies is usefulness to Microsoft.
It would also be a colossal waste of money on Microsoft’s part. (Insert funny joke about downloading it for free here). Not only would it not make sense to buy a company that distributes free software (that’s also readily available from other organizations), but it would be just as easy for Microsoft to develop their own Linux distro and distribute it in their own (and I wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that Microsoft has their own private distro for internal use and testing).
I do, however, think that Microsoft works benefit from working on a Linux- or Unix-based operating system, given that they are trying to rerelease the Surface RT idea with their new Surface Neo, Duo and Go devices, *nix could provide a better operating experience on should down hardware, and they would have better chances with community approval and support.
Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.
Dumbest thing I ever heard!! I’ll throw away my computer if that’ll happen!!!
Sadly I fear you are correct, I have had this cold sensation in my core ever since the acquisition of Git Hub .
If people Like Windows so much look at Zorin OS or ReactOS.
I completely agree with you. However I like to point out free software was never a threat to MS, Windows is already free to pirated users in India and China. And MS was well aware of it and allowed it because it increases their user base and secured the business deals they made with manufacturers.
MS will try to mimic Android & Chrome with their Linux Distro approach, because Windows is expensive.
This will save their budget and also Manufacturers are highly likely to ship MS Linux because MS brings years of experience in closed source to table.
Android failed to impress manufacturers due to lawsuits. It’s highly likely that MS with years in closed source production is in better position to assure manufacturers.
Contrary to popular belief proprietary software’s have some future as manufacturers want to differentiate their products with better software.
In 10 years or so MS would abandon Windows completely, a kind of MS’ own version Linux called Minux or Winux will be finally released.
They’d ruin it. The reason the distro/gnu linux itself is popular is because it’s open source. People tend to value privacy and that’s something Microsoft has sold it’s soul to exploit.
If Bill Gates gets canonical, he will IMMEDIATELY fill it with “call-home-and-authenticate” and “search for potentially unwanted programs” bullshit that id causing folks to abandon Windows right now.
On the bright side, it will open up the market for a NEW OS that doesn’t authenticate or delete hacks and cracks.
MS should create their own Linux distro and sell and for tech know how they must pay to Cannonical. If ubuntu becomes paid – its popularity would vanish and all of a sudden will become garbage like the current Windows 10 operating system. And people using ubuntu and its flavours would just make a transition to Red Hat Linux offering free and rock solid OS. MS has money and can buy anything at will, but the Big question is would Cannonical want itself disseminated for some short term gains. And MS would just be losing chunk of money. The choice is yours!
Chris, don’t drag us into your 20 years of submission to a dictatorship.
No. Just no. Bill Gates is a devil worshipping wanna-be Beast of the NWO. Nothing good would come from Microsoft controlling Canonical. They are diametrically opposed to each other. Should Hell take over the management of Heaven?
I love Ubuntu but If that happens I will immediately dump Ubuntu with other distro.
Just no. I have run the same system from Ubuntu 6 to Unbuntu 20, updates, major hardware changes along the way, not a single reinstall. Windows gets borked and I have to reinstall every year or 2. This from a software dev that works on all 3 platforms for a living. M$ will just f up a great thing. Of the 3, Windows is the least reliable (linux the most!), so why?
Most companies that Microsoft buy up goes belly up. Think it’s their way to get the competition out of the way. Please Microsoft, leave Linux alone, we’ve done great without you.
No, absolutely stupid idea, however continuedinvestment in MS core areas of business apps to work on Linux makes perfect sense. Windows will die as a platform eventually so this will mitigate the impact
Microsoft must stay far away from Ubuntu, they will never totally embrace the open source.
Both needs to exists. We should not forget that we have have Intel and AMD for a reason, USA has a track of splitting monopolies so it will be a bad move for Microsoft. I say this because I think the politics of today is not so smart to make a difference between Linux and Ubuntu.
I stat to believe that collaboration and competition is better.
No no no no no no no no never ever
I’ve said for several years, that Microsoft will have a Linux version. I think that Microsoft will make their own version of Linux. And will slowly replace windows with it.
Btw, Bill Gates is not at Microsoft now. He’s not been there for a decade or two now.
I don’t know about buying Ubuntu, but ever since they released SQL Server for Linux I thought that they should have their own Linux distro just for a baseline. That way you can open source it and say this is how we expect SQL Server to run in Linux. Open source for transparency.
Ubuntu would come with a lot of bloat as well as preconceived hard feelings from users of other distros.
I’ve actually been using Ubuntu for several years now, so I’m not opposed to it I just think it’s not the perfect solution.
Microsoft already has Linux “version” for all intents and purposes. With WSL they co-opted Linux almost completely because they certainly don’t need Linux-only desktop applications lol. Releasing their own Linux flavor will just formalize the takeover (I do believe they will just buy ubuntu eventually, seems pretty clear to me).
Absolutely Not! Microsoft wants two things; Your Money and Control! On any computer system running Linux you are using ing something that’s been made and tailored to you and your needs. But the second you use Microsoft Windows you are now using Their computer. It’s not yours. You don’t get to decide how to tweak it to have it do what You want it to do. “Great, my computer is working Perfectly!” *Microsoft FORCES an update(that you can only postpone for so long)* “Great, Microsoft has Srewed the pooch again. Now I have Port issues and my hardware isn’t compatible and erratic behaviour!” Linux allows everyone to help out. If Microsoft gets ahold of this then the doors are opened for More of Microsoft Control. If Microsoft can’t make it themselves then they can do without. Linux is for the People.
Open source OS is based in a mentality and ethical values that ae in total contrast with Microsoft policy. This is a war, abd Wnidoz is clearly loosing it. That is why they want to acquire Ubuntu. They want to stop the speeading pf open spurce software and hardware, because they want to control the market. Linux exists because Richard Stallman and the FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION gave away for free (would Microsoft be able to do something like this? After all the Windoz it egemonizwd the market with) their work, and made it available to everybody, even for Microsoft. Bill Gates mentality is getting more obvious nowadays that he is taking caring of the health of the planet…. I do not like it. Wake up because you also belong to this human race
No, the fact that you even have think this should be enough for you to quit, Microsoft’s most loyal puppet
As much as it hurts to admit it, there’s some application software that Microsoft has done really well. Better than open source options. And then there’s things like Access…
Office365 on Linux is a move that I don’t mind. It would allow users to leverage their years of experience with Office to move much more easily to a distro like Ubuntu. Exchange is pretty much the defacto enterprise MTA, and having more seamless connectivity with that is valuable.
The user experience with Windows releases has been a depressing slide for many users in the last 10 years or so. Maybe it’s time for them to focus on what they do well and stop spending time and resources on the things they don’t, like operating systems.
I agree with your thought process in the direction they are going for sure. I could also see them potentially acquire someone, or create their own. As you said, having the mind of Shuttleworth and his knowledge and contacts on the FOSS community would help guide them. I mean at the end of the day, he is in it to make money, he isn’t Richard Stallman.
The visceral replies above mine show much nix people love their OS. I mean I do too, but I also am a realist and use Windows in an enterprise environment, and seeing linux make more inroads in the enterprise, not just servers, needs help. And everyone needs to remember, this isn’t the gates/balmer era, Satya is definitely more open and has better vision.
Just my thoughts.
No, and here’s a perfect reason why!!!!!
I have a script that is sending pictures taken from our security cameras to our IT staff. The script simply sends an html tag as such:
As you can all see this is a local (on corporate net) only accessible image. I (running ubuntu 20) can see it just fine in my Thunderbird email client. However, one of our IT staff members who’s less (microsoft lemming rebelious), is having problems seeing the email. Apparently his Windows 10 Pro desktop running Micro$oft Outlook changes the image link from an image tag to an anchor tag and replaces the source with:
And this is exactly why Micro$oft needs to go away. Apparently they feel they are able to change our emails before we even get them.
Continue helping the Giant Micro$oft Monster tech world, and who knows, one day your email will be as reliable as the media!
I read a lot of negative comments here along the lines of “Microsoft will destroy this,” but I don’t see facts to back this up, only suspicion and blame. I don’t like everything Microsoft has done, and in particular back in the 90s, I hated Microsoft for their monopolistic business practices. But at the same time, many of their successes were due to real innovation, where they solved real problems that are expensive and hard and where I have never seen the open source community devote the resources to solve. A great example is the COM subsystem – it permits code and object reuse, secure transiting identity and credentials between processes and machines, in a way that is transparent to the caller and secure. The scripting support introduced with COM was such a big deal that it invented a new class of developer, the Office Developer.
With Nadella at the helm, all of those bad business practices I hated have disappeared. Microsoft is a different company achieving amazing things and furthering the goals of open source above and beyond what they could achieve what the authors could do themselves. Because while Linux is great, securing it, managing it, patching it, and maintaining it is all expensive – that is why Red Hat’s business exists. THAT is why Microsoft owning Ubuntu is great thing, because they can provide a ton of resources to further those projects and improve Windows at the same time. Lots of that work on Ubuntu never would have happened without money, and as a standalone company producing a [largely] free product, that won’t continue to exist. How are you going to pay those people who make the great Ubuntu you like? How do they eat, pay mortgages, and buy Starbucks? This is a win-win.
Well, that’s my 2-cents.
it’s an really crap idea .. most Linux Users left Microsoft Windows .. for an reason.
& they would be very opposed to such an move by Mark Shuttleworth . .
I don’t care because they’ll never get my Slackware!
lol, are you serious? Microsoft already bought Canonical, see how Linux DESKTOP just slowed development?
Canonical acquisition from Microsoft would be just business as usual, aka “Nokia”, buy and destroy, Microsoft does not Love or even like Linux, they have to take it down!
Linux completely destroyed Microsoft server business, Linux is superior to Windows Server in pretty much everything, and Microsoft wants to stop Linux Desktop of doing the same, the only area that Windows DESKTOP is ahead is GUI optimization, and Canonical was actually doing more work in that area that dozens of free Open Source Linux distro projects have done in a decade, so Microsoft like a Giant full of cash run to Canonical waving their hands full of money saying “if you stop that free open sour crap, we give you some contracts on our Azure Server Service” that will work until Microsoft officially buy Canonical or kill it, Red Hat, SUSE etc will happen the same, those companies have to seriously Take Linux Desktop as a must develop project, their business are Servers, but you really think they will survive if Linux Desktop is dead and Microsoft takes all the goodies from Linux?
Linux foundation is a joke, and now controlled by Microsoft, is so ironic that Linux foundation does not even care of Linux Desktop environment so it won’t bite Microsoft in any way, Google Chrome OS and Facebook Future OS is the really forces, not because they want to LOVE Linux as an Open Source project bla bla, but because they are in the game and know if they don’t have a decent Mobile/Desktop OS they will be eaten alive very soon, ever wondered why Microsoft Windows 10 became “free” all the sudden a few years ago, because if it was payed Linux desktop and it’s development would have rocket up and today we would have a Linux Desktop on this day as good or even better as Mac OS X, and definitely better than Windows 10!
Penguinistas have a long memory. We will not forget the damage done to Linux and Open Source during the Gates and Ballmer years. An acquisition by Microsoft would be the absolute kiss of death for Ubuntu. That having been said, yes I think it is definitely possible for it to happen.
The reason Microsoft Teams is available for Linux is because it is an Electron application — in other words, it’s basically a web page with an entire Chrome executable linked to it. Microsoft Edge is available for Linux because it *is* Chrome. No such thing will happen to Word, Excel, or PowerPoint unless Microsoft abandons the existing code base and rebuilds those programs as Electron apps.