MICROSOFT HAS confirmed it is to acquire code repository GitHub in a $7.5bn deal.
The news, which was confirmed on Monday after initial Bloomberg reports on Sunday night, has been the source of rumours since Friday. It will see Microsoft take control of a platform that goes against the entire ethos that made it the behemoth it is today, an image that it still struggles to shift.
"Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
"We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges."
GitHub has billions of lines of code available for open source distribution and forking, and these will now come under the auspices of a company that has until very recently been actively hostile to open source.
Since Satya Nadella took over the reigns of Microsoft, that stance has softened with large swathes of the .NET runtime and various other products being made available for the first time, whilst Windows 10 is now capable of supporting a simultaneous Linux runtime. Windows itself, however, remains closed source and it is highly unlikely that this will change.
It is understood that GitHub consciously chose to be acquired rather than launch an IPO and Nadella's attitude was said to be part of the reason for selecting Microsoft.
Nevertheless, Nadella is one man, and many of his policies, particularly surrounding the companies hero products like Windows and Office, are deeply divisive (understatement). Plus, if someone else takes the reigns at Microsoft, there's no guarantee that they won't simply undo everything down the line, and what then for GitHub?
Conversely, of course, pre-Nadella, Microsoft wasn't working, and its embracing of open source has probably saved it from complete irrelevance. To paraphrase your racist uncle: "If it wasn't for him we'd all be speaking Unix now".
Meanwhile, GitHub, which celebrated its 10th birthday recently, lost $66m in nine months during 2016 and has been searching for a new CEO for the past nine months. That role will be taken by Microsoft Corporate VP and founder of Xamarin, Nat Friedman.
Chris Wanstrath, who has been caretaker CEO will become a Microsoft Technical Fellow.
Whilst the news has come as something of a shock to most, negotiations are said to have been in progress for some time, first for a partnership and then more recently a full acquisition.
"I'm extremely proud of what GitHub and our community have accomplished over the past decade, and I can't wait to see what lies ahead. The future of software development is bright, and I'm thrilled to be joining forces with Microsoft to help make it a reality," Wanstrath said.
"Their focus on developers lines up perfectly with our own, and their scale, tools and global cloud will play a huge role in making GitHub even more valuable for developers everywhere."
So we probably ought to give this news some sort of chance to play out - after all, it's a decision that clearly hasn't been taken lightly.
Not everyone agrees though, it would seem, with GitLab reporting a ten-fold increase in the number of repositories being moved to their platform as the news breaks. There's still a lot of no-love-lost for Microsoft.
We're seeing 10x the normal daily amount of repositories #movingtogitlab https://t.co/7AWH7BmMvM We're scaling our fleet to try to stay up. Follow the progress on https://t.co/hN0ce379SC and @movingtogitlab— GitLab (@gitlab) June 3, 2018
GitLab get bonus points for capitalising though - they're currently offering 50-75 per cent off to those who switch and senior management are live on social media fielding questions from potential switchers.
But is this fair? Microsoft says in its press release: "GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries.
"Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects — and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device."
But then they also said you could stop Windows Update from deploying, and look what happened there. And don't even get us started on Skype.
The $7.5bn will be payable in Microsoft stock and the deal is expected to complete by the end of this year. µ
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