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The rumor mills have been hard at work for days, but it's now official: Microsoft is acquiring GitHub. A software giant owning one of the world's biggest homes for open source code is big news indeed. Let's break down the implications of Microsoft acquiring GitHub — from a developer's perspective. While there is plenty to cheer, there are some legitimate concerns ahead — a responsible level-headed stewardship of GitHub is what the developer community calls for.

The Euphoria

  • In some ways, this was destined to happen. Microsoft clearly cares about open source software and all the investments in the space. It was GitHub's popularity that eventually lead to the death of CodePlex — open source is just too valuable for Microsoft to not have a big stake in it.

  • Microsoft is also, by far, the biggest contributor of open source code repositories on GitHub. Between VS Code, TypeScript, .NET and Azure, Microsoft clearly dominates the GitHub open source landscape with some of the most popular repositories and engages a ton of developer collaboration. It is only natural for the biggest voice to have a say in how the ship is steered.

  • Microsoft's open source track record makes it easy to trust their commitment to the community responsibility that comes with running GitHub. Spearheaded by Satya Nadella, Microsoft has one of the most well-rounded inclusive leaderships amongst tech companies — they'll know to treat this acquisition with care.

  • Large enterprises often find themselves slow to adopt open source technologies — the hesitation is natural given how much is at stake with mission critical software. Enterprises can now be a little more trusting of GitHub repositories and bringing in open source dependencies, knowing it is all backed by Microsoft.

  • GitHub tooling for developers is truly platform agnostic — similar to Microsoft's pitch with .NET and Azure. Developers can expect GitHub tools, both CLI and desktop, to get truly uniform across all platforms — and be more streamlined for developer workflows.

  • GitHub's new CEO is Nat Friedman and co-founder Chris Wanstrath is now a Microsoft fellow, with both reporting up to Cloud and AI chief, Scott Guthrie. Nat was previously the co-founder of Xamarin — he clearly understands how to chase success and make things big from humble starts. Additionally, the leadership team has the experience of sitting in on another successful yet tricky acquisition — that of Xamarin itself. Microsoft had to let Xamarin operate in a silo to maintain developer goodwill, all the while lowering barriers to entry, sharpening tooling and providing meaningful integrations. Developers can expect the same level of finesse with the GitHub acuisition.

  • Microsoft clearly maintains a vast cloud infrastructure in Azure and the big draw for developers are cloud services for automation. With Visual Studio Team Services and Visual Studio App Center, Microsoft can easily bring loads of goodness to developers hosting code in GitHub. Between cloud builds and CI/CD pipelines, the automation story is about to get a whole lot better for GitHub repos.

  • The GitHub acquisition is in line with Microsoft's mission of empowering developers. With much-loved Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code paired with GitHub hosting — public or private, it is clear that Microsoft tools will be ubiquitous in most developer's daily life. This is an enviable position for a technology giant and Microsoft has to stay true to its commitments to earn much more developer goodwill.

The Concerns

  • There are lots of developers in the open source community who are still suspicious of Microsoft — there has indeed been some bad blood. While the new Microsoft is evident, a lot more work needs to be done to earn the respect of non-trusting developers. While some integrations of GitHub tooling is natural, any cross-selling of Microsoft services will likely raise eyebrows. For the most part, developers will want the open source collaborative platform of GitHub to work as it stands today — without the big brother effect.

  • Lot of big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Apple and many more use GitHub extensively today — both for open source projects and private repositories. It will be interesting to see how competitive strategies play into continued usage of GitHub. Even enterprises using private GitHub repos may start to feel that all their code is now "owned" by Microsoft — there will be a fair bit of trust to earn. It will be interesting to see how many such organizations decide to stay on GitHub versus going to GitLab or hosting their own Git servers.

  • A lot of GitHub operations are good fits for Azure's global scale — but developers can get wary of too many cloud services integrations. The obvious concern to overcome would be — how much of Microsoft cloud are we buying into when using GitHub?

Relive The Moments

In our software industry, often the best coverage of big news comes as a collaborative social effort — from folks who live & breathe tech every day. From stakeholders or influencers to bystanders — commentary is often well rounded and hilarious. Here are few tweets that stood out about the news of Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub:

About the Author

Sam Basu

Sam Basu is a technologist, author, speaker, Microsoft MVP, gadget-lover and Progress Developer Advocate for Telerik products. With a long developer background, he now spends much of his time advocating modern web/mobile/cloud development platforms on Microsoft/Telerik technology stacks. His spare times call for travel, fast cars, cricket and culinary adventures with the family. You can find him on the internet.


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