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Microsoft to add tools to GitHub, but vows to keep open-source site independent

Microsoft to add tools to GitHub, but vows to keep open-source site independent
Photo Credit: Reuters

Microsoft said the tech giant plans to bring its developer tools and services to the recently acquired coding website GitHub, which provides free hosting for open-source projects. In addition, the company promised to keep the platform independent, very much the approach taken with the acquisition of LinkedIn.

The Windows software maker added that GitHub would remain open and developer-first. Besides, CEO Satya Nadella stressed that Microsoft would speed up enterprise use of GitHub through direct sales and partner channels as well as access to the US-based firm's global cloud infrastructure and services. 

With the acquisition, the US-based company is aggressively targeting the developer community, which it has struggled to woo over the years, resulting in failures of Windows Phone and Universal Windows Apps platform.

The US-based firm on Monday said it had agreed to buy GitHub for $7.5 billion -- a little more than the market speculation of $5 billion. The deal is the largest for Microsoft in terms of value after its acquisition of talent social network LinkedIn for $26 billion in 2016. The company said that GitHub will be led by incoming CEO Nat Friedman, an open source veteran and founder of Xamarin, who will report to Microsoft cloud and artificial intelligence group executive vice-president Scott Guthrie. Outgoing GitHub CEO and co-founder Chris Wanstrath will become a technical fellow at Microsoft, also reporting to Scott.

In a blog post, Microsoft’s Nadella said the company currently saw three clear opportunities with the acquisition of GitHub.

"First, we will empower developers at every stage of the development lifecycle – from ideation to collaboration to deployment to the cloud. Going forward, GitHub will remain an open platform, which any developer can plug into and extend," Nadella wrote.

He added that developers would be able to continue to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects – and will still be able to deploy their code on any cloud and any device.

"Second, we will accelerate enterprise developers’ use of GitHub, with our direct sales and partner channels and access to Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure and services. And finally, we will bring Microsoft’s developer tools and services to new audiences," the CEO explained further in the post.

In addition, Nadella described Microsoft as being the steward of the GitHub community and assured that the platform would "...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."

Currently, GitHub supplies coding tools for developers and calls itself the world's largest code host, with more than 28 million developers using its platform.

After reports of a likely deal between Microsoft and GitHub emerged on Sunday, reports claimed that the deal value would be set at something just above $5 billion.

According to a CNBC report that came out before the final deal announcement, the acquisition talks began following a planned joint marketing partnership valued at around $35 million.

GitHub was last valued at $2 billion in 2015, going by a Bloomberg report. It had clocked a significant loss of around $66 million over three quarters in 2016, while racking up revenue of $98 million for those nine months.

Since last year, GitHub has been looking for a CEO to replace Wanstrath, one of its co-founders. Julios Avalos, the chief business officer of the company, has been taking care of the day-to-day activities in the absence of a chief executive. 

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