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Microsoft's new spirit of acceptance of Linux and open source seems to be filtering through the ranks, with its GM of competition taking a pragmatic stance.

Martin Taylor, general manager of competitive strategy, has told developers it is no-longer an "either, or" debate between Linux and Windows as customers are running both.

While that message won't come as a surprise to most, the development is interesting as Taylor has helped argue against Linux on Microsoft's behalf in recent years while driving Microsoft's "Get the facts" campaign.

In an interview on Microsoft's Channel 9 .Net bloggers service yesterday, Taylor said: "We are trying to not have such a hard big black old line that says Windows and proprietary software is here and open source software is there, but instead there are shades of grey. Our customers are going to use Windows and Linux, developers might use Java for this .Net for that. It's not so much of an either or world as the media would make it out to be," Taylor said.

During the interview, he also pointed to steps taken by Microsoft in releasing low-level Windows tool code to the community, via SourceForge.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer last month said he recognized customers needed the ability to manage both Windows and Linux using Virtual Server 2005. And last week, Microsoft's chief legal counsel, Brad Smith, was reported to have invited discussions with members of the open source community, saying both sides would "find we have a lot more in common than we realize." ®

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