Posted: June 28, 2018 | Categories: Miscellaneous
A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced its intention to acquire GitHub, and I don't understand what the fuss is all about.
Note: I work for Microsoft, but this post is NOT official communication from Microsoft. Its merely my personal insights on a topic that I find interesting. I am not authorize to speak on Microsoft's behalf on this topic, so do not construe anything you read here as an official statement by my employer.
GitHub is a great platform for sharing code. I use it extensively for personal coding projects, work related stuff (most of Microsoft's docs are published through GitHub), and my past work with the open source Apache Cordova project.
Looking at the different articles and posts on the Internet, it's clear that there are two camps out there; one that things Microsoft owning GitHub is a good thing, and the other that thinks it's the worst, possible, thing, ever!
The first group is right, Microsoft buying GitHub is a good thing. Those foretelling the demise of GitHub at Microsoft's hands are wrong, and are so busy looking far into the past that they can't see the open world they live in.
Yes, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer did say that Open Source was a cancer. We all heard that (and most of us cringed when we saw or read it). We all, I hope, know that Ballmer was wrong, absolutely wrong. At the time he said that, the software business was a commercially licensed software world. There were open source companies, but enterprises and consumers still bought licenses for their most important apps (the ones they use the most, or the ones they ran their businesses on). We don't live in that world anymore, and we haven't for a while now.
Open Source won!
Software companies (like Microsoft) still exist, but the most large companies run their more modern software on open source stacks. Software companies adapted and switched to a pay per use approach (cloud services, SaaS, and PaaS) or they offer additional capabilities or support for open source solutions. There's still a lot of for fee apps out there, but the world has switched to open source for so much software nowadays that it's hard to imagine paying big dollars for software like we did in the past.
Microsoft has fully embraced open source. They're the biggest publisher of open source software on GitHub. Visual Studio Code, a free, open source developer editor from Microsoft is the most popular editor used by developers worldwide. Don't forget the Monaco editor (https://github.com/Microsoft/monaco-editor the editor at the core of Visual Studio Code is open source and available for anyone to use any way they want to.
Those naysayers who are freaking out about our pending purchase (Microsoft hasn't purchased GitHub yet), do they realize that Monaco is likely used in many products that compete with Microsoft products and Microsoft doesn't care?
Back to the timing of the acquisition, Microsoft was very clear that it's trying to close the deal by the end of the year. What that means is that Microsoft doesn't own GitHub. Microsoft signed a letter of intent to purchase the company, and the two companies are going to work diligently over the next 6 months or so to make that happen, but NOTHING HAPPENS at GitHub until the deal closes. Nat Friedman will be CEO of GitHub, but he isn't now, and he legally can't direct GitHub employees to do anything.
To all those backward looking developers who publicly announced the closure of their GitHub accounts, why? GitHub is the exact same company it was on the Monday before the Microsoft announcement; exactly the same. Why the rush to close your account? In a fit of pique, you're going to abandon the tool you use to manage the source code for all of your projects just because of something you think may happen in six months or so?
I know Microsoft will fulfill its commitment to leave GitHub alone, why not wait to see that proven? I know Nat Friedman will work very hard to earn the community's trust, why not stick around to see that? Did the world end Monday? Nope. Will the world end when this deal closes? Not likely. Calm down, take a breath, and watch what happens before you make a decision.
If Microsoft closes the deal, makes some changes at GitHub, and you don't like the changes, feel free to move on. But until then, listen to people who really know Microsoft and know how the company feels about Open Source. Open source isn't a cancer, it's the backbone of the technology world and something Microsoft fully supports.
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