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The Microsoft Thing

Why I'm not so worried about Microsoft buying GitHub.

Resi Respati

Resi Respati

Web developer based in Jakarta, Indonesia.

resir014@gmail.com

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Microsoft has reportedly agreed to buy GitHub. So there's that.

I discovered this piece of news on my Twitter timeline, and - just like anything that has ever reached the Twitter timeline - people have been fanning the flames of the whole discussion. And people are starting to take matters into their own hands as well. There's been at least two people in my timeline threatening to move to other hosting providers like GitLab. Even the penguin-avatar-wearing talking heads at NixCraft suggested that people give SourceForge a try once again, which - after their track record of bundling big projects' installers with malware - remains hard to trust.

I, myself, think that most people have been making too much of a big deal about this. And I know I'll have to explain myself, so here goes.

Let me bring some context first. I'm speaking here as someone who has been eternally torn about Microsoft. On one hand, I love the latest contributions to open-source that Microsoft has done in the recent years, especially with some big projects like Visual Studio Code and TypeScript, both of which I use religiously.

On the other hand, I hate everything else that Microsoft has been doing outside the developer relations + open-source realm. Microsoft has the best developer relations out of any major tech companies, but when it comes to managing their own product, they remain as clueless as ever. We've seen this with the many different versions of Windows in the past, with the demise of Skype (which, honestly... can die a slow death), and using the SaaS model as a way to rack up profits on projects like Office, which has pretty much become a monopoly.

Despite all that, the move Microsoft is taking with GitHub is different. As we've seen, Microsoft has invested so much into open-source the past few years. All of their major open-source projects are now hosted on GitHub. Previously, Microsoft attempted to host their projects in CodePlex, their own code-sharing website. But over time, they realised that since most developers live on GitHub, hosting on their own platform gives little to no exposure to their own efforts, which ultimately led to them moving their projects to GitHub and shutting down CodePlex in March 2017.

With GitHub, Microsoft realised they don't just need to be "in" the ecosystem, they need to be "of" the ecosystem.

Microsoft has depended on GitHub for their open-source projects for quite some time now, almost every single open-source projects that they have is now hosted there. Since this decision involves our - and that also means Microsoft's - livelihood and the open-source ecosystem as a whole, I'm sure that Microsoft won't fuck this up, and it will remain the GitHub we all know and love.

Now go forth and submit that pull request that you've been stalling for days.