I double checked the source before writing this story, and it was not The Onion. Anyone who has been covering Linux, and keeping an eye on Microsoft for over a decade will be cautious with such reports. But this is for real: Microsoft is adding support for OpenSSH to Windows PowerShell.
If you run a Linux (or BSD) machine, you’re familiar with the term ‘sshing’ into a remote machine. It’s a nifty protocol that allows a user to manage servers or machines remotely. We take it for granted.
But, you may ask, what does Microsoft have to do with SSH? A lot, actually. A majority of Microsoft customers have a heterogeneous environment where they use a mix of technologies from different vendors; where Windows and Linux co-exist.
These customers want an easy way to manage their systems without having to jump through hoops. While all Linux vendors offer openSSH, “there are limited implementations customers can deploy in Windows production environments,” Angel Calvo, Microsoft’s PowerShell Team Group Software Engineering Manager, said in a blog post.
Microsoft’s only solution was to support the industry standard openSSH. It’s no longer the 1990s, and with the immense growth and dominance of Linux in virtually every space (sans the desktop) Microsoft has to support Linux, for it’s own survival. The company is not in a position to dictate to its customers. Instead, it has to change. It has to adopt technologies used by the rest of the industry.
However, this is not the first time the PowerShell team tried to support SSH. It’s actually the third such effort. But times have changed and the PowerShell team realized Microsoft’s new CEO might be more receptive to the idea. “Given our changes in leadership and culture, we decided to give it another try and this time, because we are able to show the clear and compelling customer value, the company is very supportive,” Calvo said in the blog post.
And the company will not only adopt openSSH but will also “support and contribute to the OpenSSH community,” Calvo said.
Should we worry?
There is a long history of Microsoft’s efforts to weaken Linux and Open Source. Steve Ballmer used to call it a cancer. The company’s legal department continues to goad Linux players into signing bogus patent deals; it continues to lobby governments against open source. So any move from Microsoft to support any open standard or open source technology will raise eyebrows — especially considering their “embrace, extend, and extinguish” policy towards competing technologies.
However, as I said, this is a different Microsoft and any support is better than no support at all. In the end it benefits the customers and further spreads the usage of open source technologies.
I have nothing to complain about!