Microsoft has released a statement that it will acquire GitHub, a popular web-based hosting service for version control and backbone of open source for a whopping sum of $7.5 billion. From the Microsoft’s perspective, open source is a very important aspect of cloud innovation and joining hands with GitHub will enable them to tap more audiences, better their products and extend their support towards the whole open source community.
As per the statement by Microsoft, the GitHub will still remain independent and continue to contribute to open source projects and tools. But the decision of Microsoft acquiring Github is welcomed with much criticism as the company’s attitude and stance towards the open source community in the past comes in stark contrast with the new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.
Satya Nadella has different visions for the overall growth of Microsoft when compared comes in direct conflict with the actions and visions of the previous leaders like Steve Ballmer who called open source a “Cancer”. After Nadella takes charge in 2014, Microsoft underwent a lot of change in its culture and its outlook towards open source softened and now it acquiring Github is one of the most important ones that will remain a milestone in the IT industry.
As many developers depend on Github for their projects. This giant step from Microsoft gained criticism even though the company showed its interest towards open source platforms through the last few years by launching its own BSD Unix, open source Xamarin and so on.
From the looks of it, Microsoft has learned that accepting diversities is a key step for existence and open source community being one of the largest in the world is no place to stand a competition with its culture revolving around a closed-ecosystem approach. We already have examples for this notion with the downfall of Nokia with its Symbian OS. Nokia, a great leader in the mobile phone technology a decade ago, with their counterintuitive decision to refute the implementation of Android OS in their mobile phones leads them to run out business.
As Microsoft acquiring Github started the pop up of many hate campaigns around the globe, many of the open source contributors fear the acquisition will bring an end to the transparency of GitHub and a few users already started to move away from Github to their rivals like GitLab.
But, before criticising the Microsoft-Github deal, we should also take into consideration, the various projects it has contributed over the past 7 years in open source. Microsoft Azure now has different Linux products available in the marketplace like CentOS and Debian OS. Windows 10 supports Linux bash shell and it even supports various open source programming languages like Python Ruby and so on. In the past few years, we witnessed a great shift from Microsoft’s hostile attitude towards open source to a more welcoming one by becoming a major contributor on top repositories on GitHub in 2017.
Moreover, as Microsoft CEO, Nadella puts it, “Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness, and innovation.”
By the looks of it, Microsoft has a huge responsibility to take. It needs to earn the trust of the developers who are skeptical about the whole deal and make them retain and contribute their future projects in Github and it also needs to keep away its own coders accessing the repositories of other small and large independent developers like Amazon, Apple, and Google. So, before being pessimist towards the whole Microsoft GitHub deal, let’s look at how Microsoft is going to deal with the whole issue to drive technological advancement and growth to GitHub so everyone in the open source community can benefit from it.
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