Unconfirmed reports from the All About Microsoft blog by ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley suggest that Microsoft is gearing up to support Linux on its Windows Azure cloud platform in 2012. The blog claims that Microsoft will launch a persistent virtual machine on the Azure platform that enables customers to run Windows or Linux “durably,” meaning, without suffering any loss of data due to rebooting on the Azure platform. Support for the persistent virtual machine on Windows Azure will additionally enable customers to host applications using SharePoint and SQL Server. While the conjunction of Linux and Windows might seem unthinkable given Microsoft Corporation’s historical antipathy toward Linux and open-source computing, Linux support on Azure would represent a huge coup for Azure customers that would like the flexibility to run Linux-based instances in the vein of Amazon Web Services. Moreover, Linux support on Azure enables Azure to compete more squarely with VMware. Microsoft reportedly conceded to customer requests for persistent virtual machines because customers demanded the ability to host applications such as SharePoint within a persistent virtual environment.