Microsoft’s latest operating system is based on Linux

microsoft at the helm of azure cloud switch a cross platform modular linux distro windows 10 hero
Microsoft has developed its own Linux distribution, according to a blog post published yesterday. Described as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux,” Microsoft’s says Azure Cloud Switch is its own “foray into building [its] own software for running network devices like switches.”

“At Microsoft,” penned Kamala Subramanian, lead architect on the Azure project. “We believe there are many excellent switch hardware platforms available on the market, with healthy competition between many vendors driving innovation, speed increases, and cost reductions.”

However, in the same passage, she goes on to say that cloud and enterprise networks alike find it challenging “integrating the radically different software running on each different type of switch into a cloud-wide network management platform.”

Essentially, while Microsoft likes the idea of software-defined networking, it couldn’t find the right SDN code to suit its demands. That said, Azure Cloud Switch does just that by allowing Redmond to patch out software bugs much more stealthily. It also, Microsoft says, allows the company to scale the software down, enabling it to work on features for its data center, along with other networking needs.

Azure Cloud Switch, or ACS as it’s abbreviated, was conceived with the Switch Abstraction Interface (SAI) in mind, i.e., an OpenCompute project bearing the API required to program action-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) within network devices.

Though Microsoft’s post says a lot about ACS and its accompanying features, its ties with Linux remain unclear. Maybe the world’s switching ecosystem was getting a bit too complex for Microsoft. It did say that it demoed ACS to four ASIC vendors, namely Mellanox, Broadcom, Cavium, and the Barefoot software switch. It also showed off six implementations of SAI with Broadcom, Dell, Mellanox, Cavium, Barefoot, and Metaswitch, with three application stacks being exhibited to Microsoft, Dell, and Metaswitch.

Subramaniam concludes, “We’re talking about ACS publicly as we believe this approach of disaggregating the switch software from the switch hardware will continue to be a growing trend in the networking industry and we would like to contribute our insights and experiences of this journey starting here.”

Clearly this journey is absent Windows, a surprising piece of information for anyone familiar with Microsoft’s historically antagonistic relationship with Linux. On the other hand, there’s something to be said about this new Microsoft, run by Satya Nadella, which is boldly willing to work outside its own proprietary ecosystems if it means being more efficient.


How General Motors is preparing for an electric, autonomous, connected future

How does an established automaker like General Motors adapt to new tech trends? By looking for people and solutions outside the mainstream, says Ken Kelzer, GM VP of global vehicle components and subsystems.
Product Review

Don't bother with any other 2-in-1. The Surface Pro 6 is still the best

The Surface Pro been updated to its sixth generation, now coming dressed in black and packing a quad-core processor. Outside of that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where Microsoft has made some truly noteworthy improvements.
Product Review

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a love letter to PC geeks

Lenovo’s ThinkPad line-up is targeted at business use, but it’s long appealed to hardcore PC geeks as well. The new X1 Extreme, which combines a powerful processor and high-resolution screen with Nvidia graphics, seems built for them…

The 5 budget rigs that prove PC gaming is for everyone

If you're looking for the best cheap gaming PCs you can buy, you have plenty of options. Our list of affordable gaming rigs includes the latest hardware from AMD and Nvidia, plus full support for VR headsets.

Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner Paul Allen dies at 65

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died on October 15 of complications from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The cancer survivor was best known for his entrepreneurial spirit and his frequent contributions to charities.

How does Microsoft’s newest Surface stack up against the Apple iPad Pro?

In an era where everyone is taking a bite at Apple’s products, we’ve stacked up the 12.9-inch iPad Pro against the latest Surface Pro 6. Check out this comparison guide to see which one gives you more bang for your buck.

Leaked benchmarks suggest rumored AMD GPU could be king of midrange graphics

AMD's next GPU may not be Navi-based after all. Rumors continue to build about an RX 590 which has now shown up on 3DMark's benchmark database, delivering results that easily outstrip stock clocked GTX 1060s.
Emerging Tech

Curious how A.I. 'brains' work? Here's a super-simple breakdown of deep learning

What is deep learning? A branch of machine learning, this field deals with the creation of neural networks that are modeled after the brain and adept at dealing with large amounts of human-oriented data, like writing and voice commands.

Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon 1000’ could bring octa-cores to Windows laptops

The rumored Qualcomm Snapdragon 1000 CPU may bring the octa-core design of mobiles and tablets to Windows laptops, offering four powerful cores for high performance, and four low-power cores for efficiency.

Is the new Surface Pro 6 worth the extra money or is the Surface Go good enough?

Each of Microsoft’s Surface devices are great, but with the recent addition of the Surface Pro 6, you might be wondering how it stacks up against the Surface Go. In this comparison piece, we’ve put the two devices up against each other…

Is the Surface Pro 6 a sidestep, or does it blow away its predecessor?

How good is the new Surface Pro, and is it worth an upgrade? The best way to find out is to pit the Surface Pro 6 vs. Surface Pro 5 in a head to head that tests them both on performance, design, and portability.

These gloves will make virtual reality feel even more immersive

Scientists from EPFL and ETH Zurich have come up with a thin and light VR glove which makes it so that a touch of an object in the virtual world equates to the physical touch you would expect in real life.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.
Emerging Tech

MIT is building a new $1 billion college dedicated to all things A.I.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced a new $1 billion college of computing designed to offer the best possible education to future machine learning A.I. experts.