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This post was authored by John Gossman, Azure Lead Architect and Linux Foundation Board Member.

With over 900,000 containerized applications in the Docker Hub there has never been a better time to be a developer. However, a barrier remained – Linux images run on a Linux host and Windows images on a Windows host requiring multiple infrastructures and more complex development tooling. Today at DockerCon 2017, Microsoft showcased how we will remove this barrier with Linux containers running natively on Windows Server through our Hyper-V isolation technology. This will enable developers to build with Windows and IT administrators hosting Windows Server to run any container image regardless of their platform.

When we announced and launched Hyper-V Containers it was because some customers desired additional,  hardware-based isolation for multi-tenant workloads, and to support cases where customers may want a different kernel than what the container host is using – for example different versions. We are now extending this same Hyper-V isolation technology to deliver Linux containers on Windows Server. This will give the same isolation and management experience for Windows Server Containers and Linux containers on the same host, side by side.

Tens of thousands of developers depend on Docker Community Edition (CE) on their Windows 10 laptops each day as they build, ship and run Linux and Windows containers. Microsoft has a long history of working in the Docker community, collaborating to bring container technologies to Windows and Microsoft Azure. This project is being launched today, at DockerCon, so that we can continue that legacy of working with the community to deliver innovative solutions in open source.

More than three years ago, we helped contribute Hyper-V support to the Docker Machine and boot2docker projects which served as the early foundation of Moby and LinuxKit. Over the last year, we’ve continued working hand-in-hand to bring Windows container support into Docker CE, first with Microsoft adding support for Windows Server Containers on Windows 10 using Hyper-V isolation and then Docker adding support to switch between Linux and Windows. We are now looking forward to continuing that collaboration in the open source LinuxKit and Docker projects to provide even better Windows and Linux container support. We are also committed to building support for this feature as part of the ongoing containerd project in line with the goals of an industry-standard cross platform container runtime.

“Beginning with the very first DockerCon in June 2014, Microsoft’s ongoing strong commitment to Docker and open source has been singular,” said Scott Johnston, COO, Docker, Inc.  “Microsoft’s new Hyper-V Linux containers, announced today at DockerCon, and its collaboration with Docker’s LinuxKit and containerd together represent a unique, innovative solution for developers building heterogeneous, hybrid cloud applications.”

In the spirit of providing customers with a choice, we will also enable customers to choose the Linux distributions they want to use to host their Linux containers. Microsoft will be open sourcing the required integration code and we have been working with leading Linux vendors who will be providing container OS images.  We are happy to share that Canonical, Intel, Red Hat and SUSE will also support this project.

“Canonical is proud of a longstanding relationship with Microsoft to bring Ubuntu and the best of the open source world to the Windows ecosystem.  We have teamed together to deliver Ubuntu images to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and Azure Container Service, and Ubuntu as the Bash experience in the Windows Subsystem for Linux on the Windows Desktop, and now in the form of a minimal, secure, Ubuntu container OS image.”

– Dustin Kirkland, Head of Product, Canonical

“We are excited to collaborate closely with Microsoft to optimize and include the Clear Linux OS for Intel Architecture as an option for customers to use within their new Linux containers running natively on Windows Server through Hyper-V isolation technology,”

– Arjan van de Ven, Sr. Principal Engineer, Intel Corporation

“Through both our upstream open source contributions and through Red Hat Enterprise Linux Atomic Host and Red Hat OpenShift, Red Hat is committed to bringing production-ready container solutions to enterprise customers. The cloud is hybrid and customers want to be able to adopt heterogeneous technologies. Through this aligned vision with Microsoft, we look forward to bringing Red Hat Enterprise Linux containers to Hyper-V users.”

– Jim Totton, Vice President and General Manager, Platforms Business Unit, Red Hat

“Microsoft is investing in Linux containers on Windows Server — and if security and containers are important to you —  keep on reading. This collaboration is a natural step for SUSE, as we are investing in secure, rootless containers for our CaaS Platform solution. SUSE is excited to be a part of this announcement and will actively collaborate with Microsoft to enable our joint customers with SUSE-based Hyper-V isolated containers that run natively on Windows Server.”

– Dr. Gerald Pfeifer, VP of Products and Technology Programs, SUSE

We look forward to working with all of you on this project over the coming months.