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Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: Linux No Longer a Cancer, but Real Windows Rival

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who previous called Linux “a cancer,” thinks the open-source Windows alternative has improved a lot lately and is now “in the rearview mirror,” becoming a stronger rival for Redmond’s operating system.

Speaking during an event organized by Fortune magazine, Ballmer explained that the threat from Linux is increasing and pointed out that he’s very pleased with Microsoft’s increased focus on the platform.

Recently, the software giant announced that it would release a Linux version of its SQL Server, and Ballmer says that he emailed the current CEO Satya Nadella to congratulate him for this decision.

Looking back at the early days when Windows competed against Linux, Steve Ballmer says he thinks Microsoft coped with that challenge very well and “it’s been incredibly important to the company’s revenue stream” to keep Windows the dominant operating system on the desktop.

“The company made a ton of money by fighting that battle very well,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters .

Ballmer’s original “cancer” comments

Back in 2001 when he was still Microsoft’s CEO and the company was working on maintaining Windows’ dominant position in the OS market (Windows XP was launched during the same year), Ballmer compared Linux with cancer as part of a statement that will remain in history books forever.

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

Clearly, Microsoft has since changed its feelings towards Linux and the company’s founder Bill Gates himself applauded the new direction of the software giant in recent comments made on Reddit.

Microsoft announced earlier this week that its SQL Server relational database management system (RDBMS) would be launched on Linux kernel-based operating systems starting with 2017, in a move which demonstrates that the company now sees Linux as enough of a threat to try to capitalize on its growth.

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