It’s been a couple of weeks since Microsoft confirmed its GitHub acquisition, so now is a good time to gauge its impact. After the initial outrage, many developers jumped ship and others worried about the company’s independence.
Others are far less skeptical, either glad that GitHub won’t have to worry about funding or waiting to see what Microsoft will do. The Verge managed to talk to a number of users about the purchase, and the feelings haven’t changed much.
“They’re definitely the one that can pull this off,” Docker engineer Sebastiaan van Stijn told the publication. “Microsoft has a strong history in creating great developer tools; acquiring GitHub could be their approach to bring that expertise online. With Microsoft’s focus towards open source, I’m positive, but also realize that it takes time for such a cultural change to reach every part of the company; old habits die hard, so time will tell.”
Indeed, Microsoft has wildly challenged its anti-open source perception under CEO Satya Nadella. In 2016, it had the most contributors on GitHub ahead of Google and Facebook. In 2017, Microsoft’s VSCode was the most active repository. It’s been slowly open-sourcing developer tools and providing useful integrations and features.
An Inevitable Purchase
In general, the company has been kind to its developers, offering significant support and free tools when it didn’t have to. However, some feel that whatever Microsoft’s intentions, the move is could still be damaging.
Software engineer Victor Felder voiced concerns about the overall trend of tech giants snapping up popular sites. If it wasn’t Microsoft, he says, it would have been Google, Facebook, or Amazon. Amid the serious scrutiny of Facebook, you have to wonder if putting so much power in a few company’s hands is a good thing.
There’s also the question of how Microsoft will monetize GitHub. Its $7.5 billion purchase isn’t on the level of LinkedIn, but there will be pressure to make the money back somehow. Some are concerned that this will be through developer data. When combined with LinkedIn’s network of 500 million professionals, it could be very powerful.
Microsoft has done its bit to assure developers, promising independence, a ton of improvements, and no advertising. Ultimately, though, actions speak louder than words, and we’ll have to see how this story develops.