Hackernoon logoWhy Microsoft buying Github totally makes sense by@przemekmroczek

Why Microsoft buying Github totally makes sense

Przemysław Mroczek Hacker Noon profile picture

@przemekmroczekPrzemysław Mroczek

Rails Developer

Github will change its owner. Yep, quite big news. Forget about your typical thoughts about this deal. Hold your horses, stop clicking on delete account and definitely stop immediately migrating to GitLab like everyone is doing. Stay with me.

Let me start from the beginning. Github is hackers paradise, kinda explains why it has problems with earning money, costs a lot to sustain heaven on earth. You can find almost everything there, from machine learning, newest JavaScript framework to the programming language inspired by Trump(spoiler alert: you can only use numbers greater than one million).

Even if you are not a programmer, you should care because most of the websites or apps you are running are using one of the libraries hosted on Github. The company became home for 28 million developers and 85 million repositories over the years, built wonderful community around with people who want to contribute because they value what it means to have 100 stars repo or seeing people fork it and use it. If that doesn’t sound convincing how about 7.5B dollars deal that Microsoft paid for this one. This amount has to count for something.

Then came internet

The internet doesn’t like Microsoft that’s old news. When the information hit the internet, even I didn’t believe how harsh programmers are. Couple hours brought things like:

  • Mass Exodus to Gitlab
  • Microsoft memes
  • Complains from dot-com age
  • More memes

Ok, Microsoft isn’t perfect and I understand this criticism, it has a long history of being against open source software, buying for patents and neglecting user privacy. Microsoft last decision about acquiring wasn’t also particularly strong: Nokia in one of the worst possible moments(they quickly admitted it was an error on their part), Rare Game Developers which they turned from great studio into one which couldn’t produce quality they were known for, Skype hopeful startup from Estonia with dreams about decentralization, which soon they could bye-bye thanks to Microsoft takeover.

I think this time is different…

What internet forgets?

Fun fact, guess who is the biggest contributor to open source on Github. This spreadsheet stolen from Felipe Hoffa, doesn’t lie.

This is no longer Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft. Microsoft is now supporting different flavors of Linux and has used open-source models on some significant cloud and developer products itself. Microsoft is no longer antithesis of the open-source idea and I don’t think they would ever again write “Open Letter to Hobbyists”.

You want another proof? Heard about Xamarin, it was created for native cross-development of mobile apps in C#, it was bought by Microsoft and guess what they did, they made it open source. Not a move old Microsoft would do.

I don’t know why people over-idealize Github as a company without flaws. Let’s go so back couple years back, they had problems with sexism and they were all over the news with this scandal. 4 years from disgrace but looks like chaos is still there as they couldn’t find new CEO from August last year. Github isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and people have to understand. The VC-backed unicorn startup lost $66 million in nine months of 2016, financial documents show. It only earns on private repositories and newly introduced marketplace. That’s why they went lately through so many funding rounds.

To be honest, Microsoft is one of the better options when talking about being bought by a giant. They have something to prove after many failures with acquisitions and I think they are great fit. Experience already owned as top contributor gives them a competitive advantage.

Why it is brilliant move by Microsoft

They wanted a PR in Electron merged so badly that they bought GitHub. Jokes aside but there is a lot of value on Github. Electron is now primary development platform for desktop and engine behind the VSCode. Slack is using Electron. Almost every new product that comes to a desktop is powered by Electron. Microsoft finally has occasion to redeem itself in this field after years of inferior desktop products.

Times are changing and their products are getting less relevant, no more need for Office when Google Docs are present; no more need for Windows when superior free Ubuntu is available(even the gaming argument is not very strong now). There are rumors of Windows going open-source even. For a software giant, such access to the community of developers is priceless. They can really make difference here.

Good move for Azure, as you often see the buttons for one-click deployment to Heroku or Digital Ocean droplets in Readme, Microsoft could provide tools or incentives that would make developers put one click button to Azure often and across so many projects on Github could equal more sales.

All is good but…

Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

I think all is good, don’t run away screaming to Gitlab, yet. Still, there are some questions to answer.

What will happen to Atom? VSCode is owned by Microsoft and they’re a competitive products. Maybe we are talking here about kind of merging this two editors together, VSCode has better performance and is getting a lot of traction lately, while Atom is shining with a wide repertoire of plugins. How they can make those two work in synergy?

What will happen to Aaron Patterson? He is prominent figure in Github as developer but I am not getting the “I want to work for giant” vibe from him. Maybe I am wrong and there is more going on here that meets the eye.

Github is written in Ruby. What that news means for future of Ruby in company? From what I know Ruby isn’t big language in Microsoft. Maybe I am hopeless optimist but that could be occasion for the Redmond company to do something with ruby, I hope they will not abandon it after that amount of time in favour of .NET, as this would suck big time.


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