While I was at WWDC 2018 it was announced that Microsoft would be acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion. This obviously lead to some pretty fierce backlash from the developer community. I read a lot of tweets about how people would be moving to GitLab. This lead me to tweet asking why people aren't mentioning Bitbucket along with GitLab as another Git repo hosting solution to move to.
After taking a bit more time to think about it I thought I would write about what I believe this means for the developer community, and what I'd like to see from the acquisition and what I don't want to see from it.
First I think it's important to give Microsoft a lot of credit. They have put a major focus on the developer community with strong pushes into the open source community. Microsoft has loved to remind us recently how much they are contributing to the developer community. One person I talked to recently mentioned that this is just a PR move and them just trying to improve their brand. Which I can see as being a valid possibility. Regardless, their actions have shown that they care about this community and they have worked hard to be more involved in the open source community.
The more companies that embrace open source and work to improve the developer community the better it will be for everyone. So I applaud Microsoft for this.
One of my other major concerns for this acquisition was that Microsoft was going to try to merge VS Code and Atom. It currently seems like VS Code is more popular than Atom, but I personally like Atom much more than VS Code. Due to the fact that VS Code is maintained by Microsoft and Atom is maintained by GitHub I wouldn't have been surprised to see them merge into one platform. Shortly after the announcement was made Nat Friedman the future CEO of GitHub did an AMA on Reddit to answer questions from the community.
So we will continue to develop and support both Atom and VS Code going forward.
quoted from Nat Friedman's AMA on Reddit
I'm glad to hear that they will continue to develop and support both platforms. I hope that this continues to be the case for the very distant future. Overall the AMA I thought was very good and there was only good news from it. The major question now is if Microsoft will live up to the expectations and truly put developers first. What he said in the AMA is promising, but now it's up to them to live up to what they said and promised in the AMA. Such as no advertisements on public GitHub repos, not forcing users to use the Microsoft login system, the fact that they will continue to maintain VS Code and Atom, and maybe most importantly the fact that repo security will be of great importance.
Although Microsoft hasn't given much detail about what changes they expect to make after the deal closes, I hope it will be a great thing for the community. There are some major things I would love to see Microsoft do after the deal closes. Currently GitHub maintains Electron. VS Code is also built upon Electron. I would LOVE to see Microsoft put a larger focus on Electron. Currently Electron gets a lot of hate for the high memory usage, weird quirks, and overall heavy nature of it. I would love to see Microsoft put the resources necessary to making Electron into a system that is more stable, reliable, and has more native platform features.
One other thing that I haven't heard a lot of discussion about, but I would love to see happen would be free private repositories on GitHub. Currently Bitbucket supports free private repositories, and I think it would be good for GitHub to offer this. I believe Microsoft has the resources to sell premium features to businesses and enterprise features on GitHub. So I think offering free private repositories to general users would be a great addition to GitHub.
I think it would also be awesome to see more premium features be built into GitHub. I would love to see a GitHub CI system, or a better deployment system similar to Heroku built right into GitHub. This would take GitHub pages to the next level with allowing for back-end technologies to be built into the platform.
Overall I personally see a lot of potential with Microsoft acquiring GitHub. The question now turns to if they will drop the ball on that potential, or take advantage of it and truly take GitHub to the next level.