Dmitry Nikolaev - stock.adobe.co

Microsoft takes over GitHub as it expands its open source plan

Microsoft is a major contributor to open source. It has now acquired the largest open source repository

Microsoft has taken its boldest step into the world of open source software, announcing the acquisition of GitHub, which has more than 57 million open source code repositories.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella described how software developers would be at the heart of a new world of internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) powered by software.

“Developers will be at the centre of solving the world’s most pressing challenges. However, the real power comes when every developer can create together, collaborate, share code and build on each other’s work. In all walks of life, we see the power of communities, and this is true for software development and developers,” he said.

“That is why we are so excited about today’s announcement. More than 28 million developers already collaborate on GitHub, and it is home to more than 85 million code repositories used by people in nearly every country. From the largest corporations to the smallest startups, GitHub is the destination for developers to learn, share and work together to create software. It’s a destination for Microsoft too. We are the most active organisation on GitHub, with more than two million ‘commits’ or updates made to projects.”

Microsoft has moved away from being solely a Windows company. It is now regarded as a major contributor to open source software. In Windows 10, it now provides the Windows Subsystem for Linux, which enables developers to run Linux applications directly on Windows, without the need to use a virtual machine.

Microsoft has also developed a version of .Net, called .Net Core, which lets open source developers write cross-platform applications, as well as Linux and Windows containers.

“We contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft

“Microsoft is all-in on open source,” said Nadella. “We have been on a journey with open source, and today we are active in the open source ecosystem. We contribute to open source projects, and some of our most vibrant developer tools and frameworks are open source. When it comes to our commitment to open source, judge us by the actions we have taken in the recent past, our actions today, and in the future.”

Nadella confirmed GitHub would remain an open platform. “We are committed to being stewards of the GitHub community, which will retain its developer-first ethos, operate independently and remain an open platform. We will always listen to developer feedback and invest in both fundamentals and new capabilities,” he said.

Over time, he said Microsoft would extend the enterprise developer reach of GitHub, using its direct sales and Microsoft partner channels.

Microsoft’s shift in attitude towards open source is indicative of the way software development is heading. As the industry pushes to cloud-native computing, many of the tools available to support this new model of enterprise IT are open source and available on GitHub. To remain relevant, Microsoft has increasingly become more supportive of Linux and open source technologies.

Speaking at the recent Build 2018 developer conference in Seattle, Corey Sanders, corporate vice-president for Azure Compute, said more than 40% of virtual machines in the Azure cloud run Linux. When asked whether he was concerned that Linux would cannibalise the Windows market, Sanders said: “It doesn’t trouble me.”

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