Microsoft Opens Up

March 9, 2016, 2:43 PM UTC
World Economic Forum - 2016
DAVOS 2016; World Economic Forum -- Pictured: Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, takes part in a panel discussion at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on January 19, 2016 -- (Photo by: David A.Grogan/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
David A.Grogan—CNBC NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

A version of this post titled “Microsoft’s startling sequel” originally appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

There was a time when the one thing you could be certain of in the technology industry was that Microsoft wouldn’t work with so-called open-source software. Linux was a four-letter word out of the mouth of ex-CEO Steve Ballmer, whom I’m interviewing tonight in San Francisco.

No longer. The company said the other day its successful SQL Server database product will run on Linux. (Here’s some entertaining insight into the mind of Linux inventor Linus Torvalds.) This is a big break for Microsoft (MSFT), and it’s but one example of the new direction CEO Satya Nadella has led the company. By way of background, I recommend Quentin Hardy’s accessible explanation in The New York Times, with the following snappy lead: “For years, Microsoft built walls between its products and the rest of the industry. Now it is tearing them down.”

For more on Microsoft, watch:

Microsoft’s opening extends beyond wonky business software. It proudly proclaims to be an important publisher of apps on Apple’s mobile-software platform, iOS.

In a sadder sign of the times, once hackers used to leave Apple (AAPL) products alone, presumably because they had lower market share—or maybe just because the evildoers liked to pick on Microsoft instead. Again, no longer. Palo Alto Networks (PANW), a security software firm, reported that hackers are after Apple now. The hackers are so good and their requests are so relatively small—about $400 in the cryptocurrency bitcoin—that The Wall Street Journal reports the FBI is advising victims simply to pay up.


In a cover profile of Nike CEO Mark Parker in November I wrote about his company’s global success, including its multifaceted embrace of technology. An undercurrent of the Nike (NKE) story, however, is that like Coca-Cola (KO), Procter & Gamble (PG), and American Express (AXP) it fundamentally is a marketing company. Marketing anything gets tough when the people you’re doing business with hit the skids. As such, it has been a tough week for Nike. In Kenya, it is under attack for a questionable payment it made to a national athletic association that has subsequently gone missing. Things got worse when Maria Sharapova, the sports apparel company’s endorser and business partner, announced she’d failed a doping test.

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