Microsoft lets Linux onto its cloud -

Software giant Microsoft has been getting very chummy with things that normally it would have crossed the road to step on.

Last year it said that it was going to allow its Windows software to run on ARM and now it appears that it will allow Linux into its Azure cloud product.

It is all unconfirmed yet, but there does appear to be all sorts strange rumours leaking out of Redmond. There is even one which says that CEO Steve Ballmer has a stuffed penguin on his desk which he cuddles when no one's looking.

Anyway, the rumour, reported on Technorati, is that Microsoft is allowing its customers to make virtual machines (VMs) persistent on Windows Azure.

The current VM role when rebooted or randomly recycled by the Azure platform loses any data stored. Software that relies on the machine name tend to go into a sulk. Punters have been asking Microsoft to do something about it. Microsoft told its customers that they were jolly welcome to develop the Azure apps on their own.

But since Azure can't host apps like SharePoint and other business applications, Microsoft noticed that customers were voting with their feet.

The plan is that Azure customers can run Windows or Linux in virtual machines on Azure in test-builds of the persistent Virtual Machine capability in the spring of 2012.

Of course, it also means that customers can run SQL Server or SharePoint Server in VMs, so it makes Azure look a lot more attractive.