Steve Ballmer: Linux Is No Longer ‘A Cancer’

Feisty ex boss of Microsoft ends hostility to Linux operating system and praises Satya Nadella’s open source commitments

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has signalled his support for the company’s more collaborative approach to Linux – a dramatic u-turn from his previous assertion fifteen years ago that the open source operating system was a “cancer”.

Ballmer resigned as CEO of Microsoft back in 2013, but whilst in charge of the software giant, he was notoriously hostile to Linux, a position he maintains was right at the time, although he now accepts the threat from Linux is “in the rearview mirror.”

“The company made a ton of money by fighting that battle very well,” Ballmer was quoted by Reuters as saying at a dinner hosted by Fortune magazine. “It’s been incredibly important to the company’s revenue stream” to maintain its position with its own Windows operating system.

Open Source

Ballmer CES 2011 close“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,” he said in 2001. “The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source.”

Ballmer’s mellowing to Linux comes as Microsoft continues to embrace the open source operating system.

Earlier this week, the company said it would sell a Linux-compatible version of its SQL Server database software and has been busy open sourcing a number of its software components recently.

Redmond even created an open source subsidiary (MS Open Tech) back in 2012 to advance the company’s investment in interoperability, open standards and open source. Last year however Redmond closed the unit and returned its staff back in-house.


Ballmer praised current CEO Satya Nadella‘s open source commitments but admitted Bill Gates, founder and former CEO of the company, was no longer a close friend.

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