In the race to dominate the tech business world in the 21st century, it might look like Microsoft is falling behind. The corporation was once highly influential in the business, as both its Windows operating system and its Office software suite were considered indispensable. Now, though, with new powers like Google taking over, Microsoft has begun to fade.
This week may have brought a big step toward a return to relevance. Microsoft has announced that it’s acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion. According to The Verge, the move means the software giant is working quickly to enter the cloud computing business and perhaps win back the affection of developers worldwide.
Microsoft has struggled for years to attract the developer community, which explains in part the struggles of both Windows Phone and the Universal Windows Apps platform. GitHub, however, represents a large code repository that’s very popular with industry insiders at places like Google, Apple, Amazon, and more. It houses key documents, code, and often entire projects. Now, Microsoft is taking it over.
“We recognize the responsibility we take on with this agreement,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “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.”
It remains to be seen exactly how Microsoft will execute this merger. There are 85 million repositories currently hosted on GitHub, with 28 million developers contributing to them. With any transition that big, there are sure to be logistical challenges. Meanwhile, Microsoft is still working out the kinks from a previous major acquisition: its 2016 purchase of LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.
However it navigates the landscape ahead, Microsoft will need to place an emphasis on earning the trust and respect of developers. There have been some hiccups in that relationship in the past, including the fallout from a botched acquisition of Skype and Nokia’s phone business. The hope is that, with GitHub in tow, the corporation can right some previous wrongs and begin to make inroads with the tech community again.
“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 said.