Yes. You heard it right: Microsoft is indeed planning to release its own open Linux distribution. It will be called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), and in short it can be described as a cross-platform modular operating system for managing data centers.
You are certainly aware that Microsoft has its private cloud platform Azure, which allows storing and processing massive amounts of data remotely, perform a variety of applications, and even gives the game console Xbox One more computing power. Today Azure data centers include more than 300 thousand high-end servers.
Microsoft believes in the future of networks of open type, so ACS, primarily, aims to simplify the setup, monitoring, diagnostics and control process of data centers and huge amounts of network switches of a variety of manufacturers. ACS, if you believe the press release, will take full advantage of Linux ecosystem. Of course, the system will support not only software, produced for it by Microsoft, but any other open source software.
The press release does not say openly why Microsoft decided to use Linux as the basis for this distribution. But, most likely, the reason is the fact that most of the networking equipment works is running Linux, sewn into the NAND-memory of devices, and Microsoft is unlikely to manage to convince the producers to change their approach.
Well, Linus Torvalds can open the champagne on this, albeit small, but the occasion. Many of us could not imagine that Microsoft will one day go on such an unusual step. But the IT-industry evolves, and even giant corporations realize that the exclusive approach to the market is not always favorable.