Microsoft has always had an awkward relationship with Linux specifically and with free software in general. Maybe awkward isn’t exactly the right word. For many hackers and hobbyists, their first real exposure to Microsoft and its then-CEO Bill Gates came way back in 1976, when he accused others in the then-nascent market for personal computing software of stealing his company’s products.
“As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software,” Gates wrote in an infamous open letter. “Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?”
Over the ensuing 20 years, of course, Microsoft experienced the kind of double-digit growth and open skies that we now associate with companies such as Apple and Google, and at the end of this run it dominated the PC market in ways that even Apple and Google can’t today muster in their own markets.