Could Microsoft one day open-source Windows? At the annual ChefConf conference, panel moderator Cade Metz, business editor at Wired, asked Azure CTO Mark Russinovich exactly that.

The audience naturally got quite excited and applauded enthusiastically, even before an answer was given. To the surprise of some, the Microsoft executive responded positively.

“It’s definitely possible,” Russinovich said, according to TechFlash. “It’s a new Microsoft. Literally every conversation you can imagine about what should we do with our software: open, not open, services. It’s happened.”

How the question was phrased is not clear. The notion that Microsoft could one day open-source at least a part of its operating system is not as farfetched as it seemed just a few years ago.

Nevertheless, we got in touch with Microsoft to confirm this is a possibility, and nothing more. “We have not made any open source policy or business model changes for Windows,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat.

Microsoft has been steadily open-sourcing more and more of its various projects and software; it has more than 1,000 software repositories on GitHub, for example. The company’s biggest announcement most recently was not only plans to open-source .NET, its software framework that primarily runs on Windows, but to take it cross-platform to Mac and Linux as well.

For now at least, Microsoft isn’t open-sourcing Windows. The company is simply acknowledging it is an option, though that in itself is a big step for the software giant.

Open-sourcing software is often closely tied to making it free, but that’s not always the case, nor is it required. That said, it’s also not out of the question that Microsoft could one day make Windows free and focus on other parts of its business.

In fact, many believe the company is going in that direction anyway. After all, Microsoft has already promised free Windows 10 upgrades for one year to those who legitimately purchased Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1.

The company is even offering free copies to pirates, although it won’t support them. Details are still murky on how that will work, but statements and commitments like these show it really is a new Microsoft.

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