Earlier this month, Microsoft shocked us all with the announcement that they built \u00a0a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux. Though it\u2019s far from a \u2018regular\u2019 Linux distro, it does show that even a giant like Microsoft (MSFT) needs Linux.\n\n\nNow, the company has shocked us again. Microsoft has partnered with Hortonworks and Canonical to launch a big data solution \u2013 Azure HDInsight -- which is a Hadoop managed service in the cloud. It\u2019s powered by open source technologies. And they are offering it with Linux.\n\n\nHortonworks and Microsoft are long time strategic partners and there is no surprise that HDInsight is based on Hortonworks Data Platform. The two companies already work together to bring the benefits of Apache Hadoop to Windows.\n\n\nAudrey Ng of Hortonworks said, \u201cMicrosoft has worked along with Hortonworks in the community to contribute towards Apache Hadoop and related projects, including Apache Ambari.\u201d\n\nWhy Ubuntu and not RHEL?\n\nBecause the enemy of my enemy is my friend.\n\n\nRed Hat is Microsoft\u2019s arch rival in the server\/cloud space. Microsoft, while embracing Linux, is keeping Red Hat out of their ecosystem. So MSFT has strategically picked Red Hat\u2019s Linux rival Canonical as its partner. The two companies already work together closely on various fronts, including Microsoft Azure. As a result of this partnership and rivalry, Microsoft has picked Ubuntu for its first Linux-based Azure offering.\n\n\nJohn Zannos, Canonical's VP of Cloud Alliances and Ecosystem said in a blog post, \u201cMicrosoft and Canonical are committed to meeting customer needs as the industry moves to adopt analytics and cloud architectures for scale and performance. Over the last year Microsoft has been an active proponent of open source software technologies, and we at Canonical are delighted to be Microsoft\u2019s Linux of choice in Azure and now HDInsight.\u201d\n\n\nMicrosoft is not supporting Linux out of altruism or love, they are supporting it for economic reasons. Zannos added, \u201cToday, more than 20 percent of virtual machines on Azure are Linux and VM Depot has more than 1,000 Linux images. The vast majority of these images are Ubuntu.\u201d\n\nWhy Linux and not Windows?\n\nMSFT already has a Windows-based Azure HDInsight, so why do they need to offer Linux and cannibalize their Windows market?\n\n\nBecause market.\n\n\nCustomers run heterogamous environments. More and more customers are moving to sustainable, vendor neutral technologies (read Linux and open source) and the \u2018new\u2019 Microsoft doesn\u2019t want to lose that market.\n\n\nJohn Zannos, Canonical's VP of Cloud Alliances and Ecosystem said in a blog post, \u201cEvery substantial institution will use both Windows and Linux and wants the flexibility to choose the right platform for the workload. Having that choice in platform is very important to the marketplace.\u201d\n\n\nSo here we see a \u2018new\u2019 Microsoft that is not Windows obsessed. Nadella\u2019s Microsoft will offer anything that its customers want, even if that \u2018anything\u2019 is Linux.