With the purchase of GitHub, Microsoft lives up to its mantra: developers, developers, developers
The love -interested- of Microsoft by the Open Source seems to know no limits. Much has rained since Linux was the “cancer” (Ballmer dixit) of our technological civilization, and with Satya Nadella at the controls now Microsoft does nothing but bet more and stronger by Open Source .
His latest move is especially sounded : Microsoft has bought GitHub according to Bloomberg . The largest code repository in the world is a meeting point for millions of developers, and that is precisely the key. With the control of GitHub, Microsoft is also doing with the largest development community on the planet.
No less than 27 million users according to GitHub itself , and although part of them are code ‘voyeurs’ and not programmers as such, this mega repository code has become a reference for 80 million projects (repositories) Open Source of different entity.
That famous shout from Ballmer was the culmination of a philosophy that always took developers into account. Microsoft was founded by two of them , Bill Gates and Paul Allen, and despite following a proprietary approach to its developments, the company was one of the first and strongest opted for developer conferences.
Their Professional Developers Conference has been underway since 1992, and those events gave way to the MIX events and, since 2011, to the famous Build conferences. Throughout this journey Microsoft has been providing more and more tools to developers , especially with that Visual Studio that has been assisting programmers for more than two decades.
These efforts to attract all types of developers have continued throughout all these years. Its failure in the field of mobility has not prevented, for example , from being done with Xamarin , the company that offers a multiplatform development platform. And also a company that was founded in 2011 by Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza -co-creator of the GNOME desktop environment-, which years before had been a benchmark in the Open Source world .
Microsoft and the step from hate to love for Open Source
That devotion to developers has gradually been linked to that change of mentality regarding Open Source . We were seeing it with ads with the support of SQL Server in Linux, the use of an Open Source license for its .NET platform , or the progressive release of other projects under Open Source license, such as those related to the field of intelligence. artificial .
That love for Linux and Open Source has become especially evident in Azure , its platform in the cloud, which for some time now has become a great option for developments based on FLOSS solutions. Its support of virtual machines and announcements such as the Azure Cloud Switch, SONiC or the recent Azure Sphere OS – totally based on Linux – confirmedthat change of times.
Another significant point is the mammoth project that caused all Windows code to stop using SourceDepot version control platforms to start using Git, the version control system used by most Open Source projects. In May of 2017 Microsoft announced that all the Windows code was already managed through Git , which underpinned Microsoft’s confidence in this type of Open Source technology developed by -anda, what a surprise- the very Linus Torvalds in 2005.
Without forgetting of course the well- known Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) , which with the arrival of Windows 10 has allowed Linux environments functionally integrated into the Microsoft operating system. We have seen how having a completely functional bash console in Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Debian, Kali Linux , Fedora or any other distribution is totally feasible. No more dual startups, for what? They said in Microsoft probably.
That last movement wanted to convince a little more to the developers of Open Source solutions that worked in mixed environments that they could base their work on Windows without losing efficiency . Come to us, Open Source developers, they seemed to say then. And now that message is stronger than ever with the acquisition of GitHub.
Really, come to us, developers
And so we come to this operation in which according to sources close to both companies Microsoft would have paid 2,000 million dollars for GitHub. The company is an absolute mastodon in this field, and caused among other things that Google closed its Google Code platform to end up using GitHub.
The growth of GitHub has made it a benchmark even for projects that are not specifically code , and there we find projects that are responsible for managing versions of songs, recipes or typographies, as well as guides and collaborative lists.
Not only that: although it is famous for its management of open source projects, Microsoft itself has used it as a version control system for its proprietary code , which is that GitHub also fits those “non-OpenSource” projects.
The path of GitHub has been unique, especially since it has gradually outperformed all those who preceded it, including alternatives such as SourceForge or Bitbucket. Others have been gaining more and more relevance, and in fact it will be interesting to see what happens after this acquisition : many developers still do not trust Microsoft despite these movements, and are already seeing many migrations of projects to platforms like GitLab.
But meanwhile at Microsoft they take over one of the most important developer communities around the world. That seems to be what matters most over the technology of GitHub or the talent that holds this company .
In fact, the software development segment has long been closely aligned with a mobile segment in which Microsoft has little participation . Google with Android has much more presence, but it is Apple that wins the game in terms of revenue in its App Store, something that attracts more and more developers to a platform that traditionally treats its community of programmers very well – today, of In fact, Apple’s WWDC starts.
That is probably another motivation of Microsoft, that with the acquisition of GitHub wants to maintain its relevance in the development of all types of platforms, including of course those aimed at mobile devices. The developers love (or loved) GitHub, and now it remains to be seen if they will continue to love it .
It is inevitable: skepticism and distrust surface
The debate about this acquisition has the expected tone. In Hacker News one of the users who commented on the acquisition made it clear. This developer who had been working with .NET technology for 8 years showed his empathy with all those who doubted such a movement.
” It’s sad to see a neutral player disappear ,” he explained , indicating that now that GitHub was going to be owned by Microsoft, one could no longer be sure of the direction this platform could take.
Another commentator gave another interesting point of view: what will happen to companies that used GitHub to host code that competed with Microsoft projects? The user with the alias “zxcvhjkl” commented that “suddenly a lot of startups will find that their private code is hosted by a direct compeditor, I would not feel comfortable if it were them “.
It is the same conclusion reached by Larry Salibra, from the company Blockstack, who makes use of GitHub for his projects. For him the large amount of data that hosts this service allows to study trends in the software industry , and thus discover projects that are popular to then launch competitors to those projects. “Giving your competitor access to the most valuable secrets of your company makes it logically that people are uncomfortable,” he said .
These two points of view summarize some of the fears that many developers are likely to face with an acquisition that represents a turning point for Microsoft , for GitHub and for the development segment in general.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft is able to convince us that all these “mimes” to Open Source do not have bad intentions and do not end up corrupting the principles of a philosophy that of course has never married much with the original philosophy of Microsoft. It’s as if the world has gone mad now that Microsoft is shaping (part of) the future of Linux .
And yet, they say that people can change . We’ll see if Microsoft has really done it or can do it.