With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. And so it is that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has submitted a big chunk of code to the open-sourced Linux kernel.

When compiled, the 20,000 lines of fresh code power Microsoft's Linux Integration Components, a toolkit that has been available for some time. The programs help Linux operating systems run faster and smoother inside Mr. Softy's virtual server environments. The fact that compiled modules have been available to do this job for months doesn't in any way lessen one simple and powerful takeaway from this announcement:

Microsoft takes Linux seriously. I mean, really seriously.

The cross-licensing agreement with Linux vendor Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) a couple of years ago was an early indicator. The company now also works with open-source software leader Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) when it has to, rather than trying to beat the cheeky upstart to a pulp. But in a major turn from what we’ve come to expect from the Redmond leviathan, Microsoft is releasing the code GPLv2 license. In doing so, it acknowledges that the GPL license is valid, proper, and probably enforceable if tested in a court of law.

The Linux operating environment, and much of its components, is built on the legal underpinnings of the GNU Public License framework, which allows anyone to change the licensed code as long as the changes are published to the world.

Microsoft has taken this monumental step to bolster its chances of winning another high-profile rivalry. Virtualization leader VMware (NYSE:VMW) has been offering this kind of community-friendly code support for ages, and the ability to modify and improve these vital tools is an important consideration when a large potential client is picking its virtualization platform of choice.

This is far from the first time a massive corporation has endorsed Linux (however reluctantly). International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are well-known contributors to the Linux code base, and Google runs its search queries on thousands of interconnected Linux machines. Oh, and Red Hat will join the prestigious S&P 500 list this week when CIT Group (NYSE:CIT) steps down. It's just that Mr. Softy is the traditional enemy of everything the Linux and open-source communities stand for, so this is a very big deal.

The penguins are invading Redmond. What's next -- full source code for Windows 7?

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He doesn't really believe in open-source Windows, but one can always dream. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.