Microsoft’s plan for GitHub: “Make GitHub better at being GitHub”

June 7, 2018 at 02:46PM
via Ars Technica

Enlarge / From left to right: current GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and former Xamarin CEO, soon-to-be GitHub CEO Nat Friedman

As part of Microsoft's $7.5 billion purchase of cloud source code repository GitHub, the company is installing a new CEO. Once the deal closes (which is expected to happen later this year), out will go GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath and in will come Nat Friedman. Friedman is the former CEO of Xamarin, the cross-platform .NET implementation that Microsoft bought in 2016.

Friedman brings solid open-source bona fides: core parts of the Xamarin stack were open source, and Friedman's previous company, Ximian, was created to develop the open-source GNOME project. His appointment should quell many of the fears that open-source developers have about the takeover. To engage with the community further, Friedman today did a Reddit AMA to answer questions about the acquisition.

The main thrust of his replies? Microsoft doesn't really intend to change much at GitHub. When asked if GitHub users should expect any big alterations, Friedman answered that Microsoft is "buying GitHub because [it] likes GitHub" and intends to "make GitHub better at being GitHub." Although there will be "full integration" between GitHub and Visual Studio Team Services, there won't be any radical changes in trajectory or service offerings.

This will be the case even when there is big overlap between GitHub development and Microsoft's development. Both GitHub and Microsoft have open-source programmer-oriented text editors built on Electron, an application development framework using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. GitHub has Atom; Microsoft has Visual Studio Code. Friedman said that development of both will continue because developers are "really particular" about their tools: Visual Studio Code users wouldn't be happy if forced to use Atom, or vice versa.

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