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Microsoft has made SQL Server for Linux. Repeat, Microsoft has made SQL Server 2016 for Linux

Embrace, extend ... DROP?

Microsoft has ported its SQL Server software to Linux and has promised to release it in full by next year.

From today, the Windows giant, which once likened Linux to cancer, will show off to a lucky few a preview of its SQL database's core engine for the open-source operating system. The full SQL Server 2016 for Linux will be made available by mid-2017, we're told.

Scott Guthrie, exec veep of Microsoft's cloud and enterprise group, said in a blog post on Monday that the Linux port "will enable SQL Server to deliver a consistent data platform across Windows Server and Linux, as well as on-premises and cloud."

"SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution," he added. In other words: we know you're using tons of Linux machines, virtual and real, in your data centers; go on, let us have a go on some of them, eh?

Here's the crucial part of Guthrie's post:

The private preview of SQL Server on Linux is available starting today and we look forward to working with the community, our customers and our partners to bring it to market.

It's another obvious sign that Microsoft, with Satya Nadella at the helm, is no longer giving the non-Windows world – particularly the open-source world – the cold shoulder. Let's see: it's bought Android and iOS app building toolmakers Xamarin; it has developed its own flavor of Linux for networking; it's making utilities for monitoring Linux servers; its public cloud Azure and Linux maker Red Hat are all loved up; and it's released stats package R Server for Linux.

SQL Server for Linux is not an entirely insane play by Microsoft, which has built its business on Windows and software for Windows, like its Office suite. If you're running a bunch of Linux servers, you're not likely to ditch the OS for Windows. You're not likely to switch your web server software to Redmond's IIS. You're not going to port your Unix-friendly web apps to Microsoft's platform.

But, hey, you might want to switch out your SQL database server. SQL is a common language, and a well-behaving application shouldn't really care which SQL database engine it's talking to as long as it follows the standard. Sure, that's not quite how the real world works – every engine has its own quirks that developers tune for or work around.

However, if Microsoft is going to persuade Linux bods to replace any part of their stack with a Redmond product, an SQL service is an easier drop-in replacement than others.

Let's hope it all works out better than Microsoft's FoxPro database engine for Unix. Or Skype for Linux. Or Skype for OS X.

We'll find out more on Redmond's touchy-feely relationship with Linux at the US corp's "Data Driven" get-together in New York City on Thursday, which we'll be attending. ®

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