Is Microsoft cozying up to the OSDL?

* Microsoft porting to Linux rumor

The craziest rumor I've heard in a long time was circulating last week: Microsoft was going to cooperate with the Open Source Development Lab to port Microsoft services, utilities, and applications to the Linux platform.

It's true that, as we reported a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft no longer considers Linux and open source to be enemy No. 1 (that "honor" goes to you, the user, according to Steve Ballmer) but it's a far cry from "no longer top-enemy" to "bosom buddy."

The rumor evidently started when OSDL head Stuart Cohen addressed the Commonwealth Technology Forum in London last week. "I would not be surprised to see them [Microsoft] participate in software that runs on top of Linux in the future," he said, in remarks that were widely quoted in the British technology press (http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,39020381,39208632,00.htm).

Microsoft's general manager of platform strategy, Martin Taylor, was quick to deny (to any and all who would listen) that Microsoft will pursue any collaboration with the OSDL.

Microsoft won't even supply the drivers to allow Linux users to authenticate against Active Directory. As we noted last issue, Redmond relies on its partners Centrify and Vintela to handle that chore so that Microsoft wouldn't have to associate with the penguin lovers. So it would really be unthinkable, at this time, for Gates & Co. to port their product to an open source operating system.

I could see, though, how a rumor such as this might get started. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was cited having lunch with Red Hat's CEO Mathew Szulick recently. And Redmond has long ported its applications to the Macintosh OS. And the latest Mac OS versions are Unix based. And Linux is Unix based. So put it all together and you get - the silly season, I think.

There's not much chance you'll be running SQL Server, Exchange, IIS or any other Microsoft server application on a Linux host any time soon. And you can quote me on that.

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