Today, Microsoft has announced a partnership with Docker. This started in June when Microsoft added Azure support for Docker Linux applications, and now Microsoft is opening up the Windows Server ecosystem to the Docker community.
Microsoft will accomplish this through investments in the next wave of Windows Server, open-source development of the Docker Engine for Windows Server, Azure support for the Docker Open Orchestration APIs, and federation of Docker Hub images in the Azure Gallery and Portal. Since many customers use a mix of Linux and Windows Servers, Azure now offers more options than its rival cloud providers.
Windows Server containers provide an operating environment that is isolated, portable, and resource controlled. You can run them in your datacenter, hosted datacenter, Azure, or any other cloud service. Further, since they use Window Server technologies (e.g. .NET, ASP.Net, PowerShell), developers familiar with Window Servers can take advantage of containers.
Docker, so far, has built an open-source ecosystem running on Linux containers. By providing a curated collection of applications in the Docker Hub, they provide an intuitive user experience. By adding Windows Server containers to the ecosystem, there is even more choice and flexibility. In the future, Microsoft is working on native Windows Server support for the Docker client itself.
Microsoft is making the user experience simpler by adding the ability to deploy Docker applications to Azure from the Docker client directly. The Docker Hub will also integrate with Azure Gallery and Management Portal, allowing access to content from both sources.
You can read the full details of the collaboration and future plans here. This is more evidence of a Microsoft willing to work with rival ecosystems and collaborate. However, this may not be such a benevolent gesture, but rather a nod to the inevitable. While Linux has insignificant market share on the desktop, it is huge in the server space. Microsoft has acknowledged this, and the fact that its own customers use Linux, and it is has been evident in their product support and product direction.