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Linux: Microsoft Gives in and Becomes a Believer with Introduction of a Custom Linux-Powered Chip

By Dick Weisinger

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” said former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer back in 2001. Times have changed.

After more than a decade of fighting against Linux, Microsoft has changed it’s mind and now sees some of its advantages under the leadership of now CEO Satya Nadella.

Microsoft announced that they will be using Linux as the operating system on a new chip that they’ve designed for use in their data centers for the Azure cloud system.  The chip specifically targets IoT manufacturers.  It is part of the “Azure Sphere Service”.  The design of the new chip is based on the Microsoft custom chip used for its XBox gaming products.  The chip will run the OS called Azure Sphere OS based on the standard Linux distro but altered specifically for the custom chip.  The purpose of the chip is to be able to report back to an app running in Azure any potential hacks or threats on IoT devices to allow vendors and manufacturers to track all their devices via a dashboard and then identify problems.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said that “of course we are a Windows company, but what we’ve recognized is the best solution for a computer of this size in a toy is not a full version of Windows. It is what we are creating here.”

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