THERE WAS whooping and cheering at Build 2016 when Microsoft revealed that it will offer Linux shell support in Windows 10. And it's certainly one of those 'hell freezes over' moments. A bit like the nerd equivalent of the Berlin Wall coming down. So why am I so sceptical?
Over the past year, your super soaraway INQ has reported on the random mix of snake oil, aggression and downright fuck-knucklery by Microsoft over the rollout of Windows 10, which we christened Updategate and will continue to dine out on for as long as said fuck-knucklery continues.
Meanwhile, Ubuntu, with which we have an excellent relationship (Hi, Mark!) and hold in high regard, has continued to impress us with a genuine attempt to make ground against the domination of Windows in the consumer and enterprise sectors through open source.
OK, so the market share difference is well over 80 per cent, but the point is that it's a realistic alternative.
So when Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows at Microsoft, told the room that Bash is coming to Windows, I felt like I needed to pinch myself when the excitement was quite so high.
To me, it felt like Darth Vader had said: 'Luke, it is your destiny! Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son! Come with me. It is the only way.'
And Luke had said: 'Yeah, alright then. Sounds like a laugh.'
If Microsoft can emulate Linux (sorry, it's not an emulator. Try again). If Microsoft can virtualise Linux (no wait, it's not virtualising. Let's take another run up). If Microsoft can run Linux programs in the middle of a Windows environment (closer) that's it. Windows wins.
I know that Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has already explained that expanding the reach of the ecosystem is a good thing. But all I can see is fewer reasons for making Ubuntu, or any other Linux operating system, your primary desktop OS, and that's a massive shot in the foot.
Yes, I see Mark's point. It's great to bring open source to a wider audience but, lest we forget, Windows has proved itself a privacy nightmare in recent months, and Microsoft has repeatedly moved goalposts and reneged on promises.
Why are we encouraging this?
What's even more interesting for me is that it comes just weeks after Microsoft closed a project that aimed to bring the Android runtime to the Windows 10 environment claiming it was too darn hard.
Erm. Isn't Android a form of Linux? (Clue: yes.)
There seem to have been some orchestral manoeuvres in the dark here (and no, I don't mean the Liverpudlian synth-pop band). One of two things has happened.
Was the Android thing a ruse? Maybe Microsoft decided, given that at the time the decision was made the Windows Mobile dead horse wasn't fully flogged, that it was best not to encourage Android users and to stick to the John Hurt thing instead.
Or maybe the addition of Bash to the command line is a backhanded enabler to the sweet cherry of Android compatibility.
As ever, it's not the open source community I don't trust here, not Ubuntu, not Red Hat, not anyone else. It's Microsoft.
Isn't it sad that every time something remotely 'good' happens I have to question Microsoft's motives? It might have a lot to do with the fact that I spent the year running up to the launch of Windows 10 referring to the "new groovy open" Microsoft. And I don't like looking stupid when there isn't a woollen R2D2 hat involved.
What I did do, however, was say when Windows 10 was formally announced that it left me feeling uncomfortable, and in that sense I've got the gift, dude. I see evil auras.
What I'm basically saying is 'yay' for Bash being a part of Windows. It's going to open a lot of doors. But it closes a lot of others and that worries me. It also means that anyone hoping to see Linux making significant inroads into Microsoft's desktop market share is going to be disappointed.
I don't want to live in a world where a company that has mucked people around as much as Microsoft has with Windows 10 is the only game in town.
I hope to Ada Lovelace (the god of computing) that I'm wrong and this is the best thing ever to happen to Linux. I love them, and I don't want them to get hurt the way I was. µ
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