Microsoft has splashed out again. They have just acquired open-source source code management and sharing platform GitHub for $7.5bn. GitHub has a community of 28 million developers and hosts 85 million repositories of code. GitHub is used to host some of the most significant open-source projects, including Ansible, Kubernetes and many others. Microsoft's last major purchase was LinkedIn, brought in June 2016 for $26bn.
While Microsoft has been relatively silent in the running of LinkedIn, this might not be the case with GitHub. The challenge for Microsoft has an image problem with the open-source community. It has a history of trying to slow Linux development with patent issues, or Steve Balmer calling Linux “a cancer” has not endeared Microsoft to the open-source community. More recently it has provided a range of tools for software development, such as the now open-sourced .NET platform, which supports both stand-alone applications and applications on the azure cloud, as well as the Visual Studio Code editor.
So some of the development community are naturally sceptical and are concerned about Microsoft having access to their code. The challenge that Microsoft must overcome is to convince developers that code on GitHub will not end up in future Microsoft products, especially without attribution. Perhaps more developer friendly comments from the current CEO will help.
“Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation. We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges.” – Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.
Microsoft has, however, brought a platform it uses extensively. Not only is the Visual Studio Code (vscode) repository one of the most active on GitHub by contributors (over 15,000 according to the stats released on octoverse.github.com), but Microsoft has over 1,800 repositories on the platform from their various open source teams.
“I'm extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I'm thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality. Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere.” – Chris Wanstrath, CEO, GitHub
Microsoft will make some changes when the deal closes at the end of 2018, with GitHub becoming part of the Intelligent Cloud segment. Wanstrath will move to work on strategic software initiatives as a Microsoft fellow. nat Friedman, an open-source veteran, who joined Microsoft when they purchased Xamarin in February 2016, will become the GitHub CEO.