Where Developers Stand on Microsoft Acquiring GitHub
Develop | Posted June 05, 2018

On Monday, Microsoft announced its acquisition of GitHub in a $7.5 billion deal.

Since GitHub’s platform serves over 28 million developers and hosts around 85 million projects in an effort to create a community of collaboration and learning, this news is near and dear to our hearts at SmartBear.

Where SmartBear serves a hefty 6.5 million software professional in over 22,000 companies, many of our users are familiar with GitHub and regularly use it as a code repository. As the heart of the open source community, freelance developers and tech giants alike (Amazon, Google, and Apple come to mind) use GitHub for projects small and large.

So why Microsoft’s interest in GitHub in the first place? Microsoft is the top contributor to GitHub with roughly 1,300 employees pushing code. After recently shutting down its own version of GitHub, CodePlex, Microsoft mentioned that they had already moved most of their projects to GitHub, noting “GitHub is the de facto place for open source sharing and most open source projects have migrated there.”

For this reason, the acquisition isn’t totally surprising, and to many speculators, seemed like the logical next-step with Monday confirming rumors.

Upon hearing of Microsoft’s acquisition, we’ve noticed mixed reactions. Looking quickly at the poll on SmartBear’s Twitter, you can see the vote is split.

The majority of respondents at 38 percent take a neutral stance and don’t think much will change. Meanwhile, people are weighing in on each end of the spectrum with 34 percent foreseeing positive change and 28 percent feeling uncertain towards GitHub’s future.

Those that are faithful in Microsoft are hoping that it could provide the stability GitHub has been needing in recently turbulent times. Additionally, there is excitement around the ways that Microsoft will be able to elevate GitHub’s current capabilities by making it easier to develop in the Azure cloud, expanding the GitHub Marketplace, and integrating VS Code with GitHub support, for example.

Where does the skepticism come in? Some are afraid that GitHub could go the ways of Skype after Microsoft’s acquisition of it in 2011. After Microsoft made software updates to the popular video calling platform and refocused it for enterprise consumers and corporate markets, loyal Skype users began taking to the internet to complain, saying bugs in the UI had made Skype too difficult to use and it did not resemble the software they once loved.

Additionally, not all developers trust Microsoft to be the open source ally it claims to be. Some fearing that keeping their projects on GitLab could take a turn for the worse if Microsoft were to use their powers for evil and peek at competitors’ private repositories or take advantage of data mining.

A percentage of users have taken on such a strong stance against the acquisition that they are already flocking to rivals such as GitLab, possibly swayed by the #movingtogitlab hashtag and discounted packages.

One thing’s for certain, Microsoft has done a lot for the open source community, which is something devs can get behind. Supporters of the acquisition point out that Microsoft isn’t the same company it was a few years ago since Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella came on in 2014.

Pursuing open source technologies such as PowerShell and Visual Studio Code, Microsoft has made notable contributions to the open source community in recent years thanks to Nadella. Additionally, by making the move to support more open source ventures such as embracing Linux, Microsoft has separated itself from its anti-OSS reputation in order to offer products and services that work on a variety of platforms developers are using.

It’s apparent with the acquisition of GitHub that Microsoft hopes to continue making a name for themselves in this space, and the company has promised to keep GitHub independant and open.

This is something that we’re passionate about at SmartBear as we strive to support the open source community, and many of our tools are either open source or integrate with open source projects. SmartBear recently received the highest score in open-source-based testing acceleration in Gartner’s 2018 Critical Capabilities for Software Test Automation.

While Microsoft makes a valiant effort to play a critical role in the open source community, it seems that our best option is to get behind them until they give us a reason not to.


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