I never thought I’d say this, but good for them. Hopefully the “new” Microsoft will continue making contributions and open up to the community. They’ve come along way since the Ballmer days.
You can probably sum up the reasons for this in 2 words: Azure and .Net.
This move is all about developers. What I’ve noticed is that under the leadership of Satya Nadella Microsoft is no longer attempting to use .Net and Azure and their developer tools as a way of pushing developers to use Windows. I very much doubt we’re going to see an open source version of Windows but what we are seeing is more and more “Microsoft Developers” using non-Microsoft platforms.
Microsoft, under the leadership of Satya Nadella is a very different beast to the one under Steve Ballmer. Ballmer was “old school”, all about Windows and Office licences. Satya Nadella realises that this model just isn’t going to cut it. So he’s freed up the individual divisions within Microsoft to each work their own way. That’s why the developer team is “allowed” to create tools and frameworks that work on Mac and Linux, and the Office team are releasing Office on iPad and Android (although technically this will have been started under stewardship of Ballmer), and the SQL Server team can create a version of SQL Server running on Linux and in Docker.
Of course Windows is still important to Microsoft. It’s still a big money spinner for them, and there are always going to be things which MS will not open source (Windows, SQL server and Office to name 3 off the top of my head), but I really wouldn’t be surprised to find more and more “stuff” that MS makes being made in the open.
Personally I like to believe this new Microsoft is going to be a much friendlier Microsoft, one that doesn’t pit itself again the world in the hopes of locking people in to it’s ecosystem. I work with Windows every day and never have I felt quite as free as I do now to use whatever tools I WANT to use, and whatever tools are best suited to the job at hand…
Microsoft still collects royalties from many Android device manufacturers for Microsoft patents. So the company is still sticking a knife in the open source community any place that it can make a profit by doing so.