About the inner working of Microsoft isn’t known very much. We can only speculate what is going on. The most dominant invention in the last 5 years was the so called “Linux Subsystem for Linux”. Why has Microsoft made such an important step? There was no real need. Most Windows users doesn’t need Linux, and people who are running Linux have Wine. So the step makes no sense. But every step in Microsoft’s history has a meaning, it is not possible that they are making something wrong.
Let us investigate the Windows ecosystem in detail. Windows is very strong for mainstream desktop users and especially for gamers. Here the Windows system has a market share of 99%. Windows is also very strong for programmers / developers, the market share is around 80%. Most active users in Stackoverflow who are programming with C++, Java and PHP are using Windows but not Linux. In contrast, the technical situation is very optimistic for Linux. A java programs run in Linux as well as in Windows, and the new steam client for Linux works also reasonable well.
We have the situation, that from a technical point of view a state of the art Fedora Linux / Ubuntu is a very good choice for playing youtube videos, run Java programs and playing Steam games, while in reality the people are preferring MS-Windows. According to the latest stats, the number of Steam users who are running the client in Linux is below 0.1%. That means, nobody is doing so.
I would guess, that Microsoft has the fear, that after the technology works well with Linux, it is only a question of time, if the average users are finding out, who well the Linux ecosystem works. This could explain the project “Linux subsystem for Windows” which is a try to get control over the situation. What Microsoft is doing is some kind of proactive marketing, in the hope this will extend the lifecycle of his operating system.
Let us explain, why the average desktop users is not using Linux but Windows for creating word-documents, playing youtube videos or playing Steam games. The answer is simple, it is 100% the result of marketing. Only from a technical point of view, Linux is superior. It boots faster, costs less and is more powerful (e.g. the bash shell) then a Windows operating system. On the same time, 99% of the users are fans of Microsoft. That means, Microsoft has the better marketing but an outdated technology. I would guess, that Microsoft is aware of the problem. They know, that on a technical side they are no longer powerful.
Let us watch in slowmotion how the battle between Microsoft and Linux is going on. The first round took place in the 1990s. That was the time, in which Linux was able to replace commercial UNIX vendors. Today all supercomputers and most webservers are running with Linux operating system. In the 2000s the average programmer become familiar with Linux and the Android development began to start. Now in the year 2018 we have the situation, that Microsoft itself is promoting Linux. They have introduced a Linux subsystem for Windows which works better then any x-window port before, and they are using git for internal reasons. Let us assume, Microsoft is trying to increase the effort to promoting Linux. What will happen, at first, the number of endusers who are getting in touch with Open Source will raise, and at the same time, the Open Source community can bring Microsoft in front of a court, because they are using the GPL license the wrong way. Short explanation: if somebody is using Open Source gpl software he must open his own sourcecode too, that is not the case for Microsoft, they make the subsystem open but not the rest of the operating system. That means, the Linux movement is in a very comfortable position. Either everything stays the same, or the world is switching to Linux. That means, it is not possible to win against Open Source software in the long run. What is possible, and we see it, to make profit in a short term perspective, because right now, 99% of the customers are preferring Windows and are paying a lot of money for it. THat means, there is a cultural bias which is against Linux, at least by the enduser.
Let us describe the bottleneck of Open Source software. The main problem, which has to be answered is how to become new sourcecode. Only what is available as sourcecode can be called an operating system. The interesting point is, that the Open Source movement has solved the issue. The business model is simple and was invented in the 1980s. In short, the idea is to pay programmers for writing code, and publish the code under a gpl license. From a classical point of view, this makes no sense. Because somebody has to pay money without getting a copyright protected product which can be sold to the customer. But according to the latest earining report of Red Hat, it is possible to earn money with it. The reason is, that companies like Cisco, IBM and Google have a demand for Open Source software, so they are paying the price. And if the Linux kernel doesn’t fit their needs, they are simply changing the sourcecode.
The bottleneck in Open Source (who programs the code) can be seen as solved, and that is the reason, why Linux has a market share on supercomputers of 99%, and on Smartphones above 50%. And that is the reason, why Microsoft is in fear of it. Because they have nothing against it. The interesting feature in Linux vs. Windows is, that both operating systems are not defeat each other on the same market. In reality. there is only a windows Market, in which Microsoft has 100% market share and an Open Source market in which the Market share of Microsoft is below 5%. That means, red hat is not attacking Microsoft directly on their own market, they have created a new rule book which works differently. In theory, both markets can exists together. But the underlying subject is in both cases software, so there is some kind of challenge ongoing.