“Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers”. That’s what Steve Ballmer – Former Chief Executive Office of Microsoft shouted, jumping around enthusiastically during the opening of his presentation at Microsoft’s 25th Anniversary event in September 2000. From its early days, Microsoft celebrated developers would take up the mantle to create proprietary software for Microsoft.
So if you haven’t noticed by now, Microsoft was and has always been about acquiring developers to keep under their wing. Speaking of acquisitions, Microsoft also has a reputation for making questionable ones. This time though, they’re aiming at the developer community.
In a recent announcement reported by Bloomberg, it appears that Microsoft is looking to acquire GitHub. In case you didn’t know, GitHub is essentially an enormous code repository where developers can host their projects, documentation, and code. Everyone from Apple to Google and many more multinational tech companies use this repository on a daily basis. Interestingly, Microsoft is the top contributor to GitHub, according to The Verge, with more than 1,000 employees pushing code to repositories on it.
Why would Microsoft be interested in GitHub?
In the early 2000’s, life was a tad different. Open-source software was not exactly popular. The fact that a developer could look at the code of a program, tinker with it and possibly improve it send shivers down the spines of those at Microsoft. Thankfully, those days are long behind us. In fact, CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella has embraced the arcane art of Open source software.
Further, Microsoft would also use the acquisition to push its cloud platform Microsoft Azure to GitHub users. They could even go as far as to create a tie-in between GitHub and Visual Studio Professional/Enterprise as well. As such, acquiring GitHub would make sense.
On the side of GitHub, things haven’t exactly been smooth sailing either. Following Chris Wanstrath’s plans to step down as CEO, the company has been on the lookout for a replacement. Added to that, GitHub was also hit with quite possibly the largest DDOS attack in history. Despite this, the site was back up in under 15 minutes.
Some, like Adnan Issadeen – Systems Developer at Buffer believe that Microsoft could turn GitHub into a Loss Leader. Another approach is that they might try to make a profit from GitHub. This could be done by restricting features for GitHub users and implementing a premium features mode.
What does it mean for developers?
Therein lies a very interesting question. For now, we can’t really say what Microsoft would do. They may decide to let GitHub run as it is, or have a big game changer plan as well. As Nimila Hiranya Samarasinghe, a Software Engineer at Apptizer.io says “It’s all good as long as they don’t add Microsoft logins or something like that”. In addition, if Microsoft were to bring some seamless integration between GitHub and Microsoft Visual Studio, that would work too, he went on to explain.
Not everyone is particularly happy about it
For example, Andrew Jebaraj, the co-founder at ReadMe is quite skeptical about Microsoft’s attempts at acquiring GitHub. “Anything that Microsoft touches dies,” he went on to say, talking about what happened with Nokia and the Windows Phone tragedy.
“There’s also the fear of Microsoft blocking integration to other sites,” said Ranuka C. Perera, a Software Engineer at Mazarin. GitHub is known for giving developers a lot of tools to get their work done. If the acquisition threatens this, developers are not going to be particularly happy about it.
GitHub has its own editor called Atom. Microsoft also has its own editor called Visual Studio Code. The latter performs significantly better than the former. So does this mean that Visual Studio Code would replace Atom? “GitHub already has a thriving community”, Ranuka went on to say. “I hope the acquisition doesn’t kill it”.
On a more interesting note, GitLab has seen an almost 10x increase in the normal daily amount of repositories. In comparison to GitHub, GitLab offers a number of extra features such as continuous integration and delivery. Harping on the Microsoft/GitHub scenario, GitLab is also currently offering a whopping 75% discount on their Gold and Ultimate packers.
Update (07:43 PM): Microsoft has confirmed the acquisition of GitHub for $7.5bn of Microsoft stock. The deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. Chris Wanstrath – GitHub’s current CEO will step down and become a Microsoft Technical Fellow. He will be working on strategic software initiatives while reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie. In his place, Nat Friedman – Microsoft Corporate Vice President & Founder of Xamarin will be GitHub’s new CEO.
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