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Open Source, from Microsoft with Love

Microsoft has bought GitHub. For no less than 7.5 billion dollars. This is undeniably a huge amount of money. But if you ask me, it’s a bargain. A smart investment with great return prospects. Because, with the takeover of the platform, Microsoft will also be gaining a major developer community.

This takeover has come at the right time for GitHub too. The company behind the platform has not always enjoyed positive news coverage. One of the co-founders was forced to leave a little while ago due to allegations of inappropriate behaviour. GitHub was also struggling to keep its head above water financially. It needed a capital injection via private investors or even an IPO, but both scenarios demand a lot of time and resources. It looked like selling was the only real option.

And there was no shortage of potential buyers. In addition to Microsoft, Google is believed to have been in the running. And Amazon has also shown interest in the past. But Nadella came out on top. The fact that Microsoft has the biggest user community on the platform will certainly have played a role.

But GitHub is actually technology agnostic. Any developer writing code using any technology can share and manage this on the platform as well as developing it further with the other community members. So it’s not an exclusive Microsoft club. And that’s exactly what makes it attractive. If Microsoft soon starts to run analyses of the codes that users upload, this is guaranteed to provide them with good ideas for the new solutions that they have in the pipeline or plan to develop themselves. This kind of platform is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of the developer community.

Of course there are also a lot of potential Microsoft developers on GitHub. If they succeed in convincing just a fraction of these people to work with their own Azure platform, the investment will soon pay for itself.

But all that requires Microsoft to shake off its old reputation as a money grabber. Although the company has not been in the news due to legal cases and damage claims for years now, many people have not forgotten that the guys from Redmond previously dominated the market a little too enthusiastically.

A number of GitHub users among them, naturally. They immediately made the switch to the competitor platform GitLab following the announcement. To the extent that the platform briefly went down, as it could not handle the influx. But all in all, the outflow has remained limited. It will be different if one of the other major contributors decides to leave in the coming period. I can imagine that over at Red Hat they are not amused that Microsoft is suddenly hosting a significant part of their source code…

But everything will work out. Under Nadella, Microsoft made a strategic U- turn and began to behave completely differently. With much more humility. And this was necessary, after they had missed a couple of crucial evolutions in the market. Windows Phone, anyone?

Over the past few years, Microsoft has already put a lot of effort into getting the developer community on its side. At GitHub, the company’s employees are already providing the lists of top contributors under the motto ‘Open source, from Microsoft with love’. This was a strong signal in itself. Besides the fact that they have now completely absorbed the platform.

Of course Nadella knows that you can’t have a successful cloud platform without a development community. And to give it every chance of success, everyone must be welcome and you have to keep the platform as open as possible. This offers the best guarantee of commercial success. In fact: a closed environment is simply unsellable these days.

At Codit, we are big fans of the Azure platform. It’s the perfect co-creation platform for developing innovative solutions along with our customers. When it comes to the IoT, for example. But I’ve talked about that previously.

What do you think about this move by Microsoft? And what if Google takes on competitor GitLab in the near future? Will that be less problematic? How ‘open’ source is Google really? Surely it’s a matter of perception?


This article was first published on Data News in Dutch.

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