What does Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub mean for Mycroft?

Originally published at: http://mycroft.ai/blog/microsoft-acquires-github/

You might have already read the news that Microsoft is acquiring GitHub for $USD 7.5 billion, calling Nat Friedman – former Xamarin CEO, now Microsoft corporate vice president – to take the reins as CEO. Github founder Chris Wanstrath announced his resignation in August.

The announcement has been met with strong opinions from around the open source community, ranging from shock and disgust to more sanguine and embracing viewpoints.

In some ways, Microsoft’s acquisition is a natural evolution of their relationship with GitHub. Codeplex, Microsoft’s own coding platform, was sunsetted late last year, and Microsoft is now the top contributor to GitHub, with other 1000 employees making commits to GitHub repos. This follows several moves from Microsoft in recent years to embrace the open source community, including the open sourcing of the Dot Net development language, and a dedicated ‘Open source at Microsoft’ platform. Microsoft also has a strong track record of being developer-centric - characterized by then-CEO Steve Ballmer’s epic ‘Developers, Developers, Developers’ address.

At the other end of the spectrum, several developers have expressed concerns about the acquisition.

For some, having a tech giant such as Microsoft with control of a platform as ubiquitous as GitHub does not sit well, with caution being expressed at the level of control Microsoft could exert over not just the platform, but its contents. Coupled with the fact that GitHub has never turned a profit, others point to the prospect of pricing changes, or forced bundling with other Microsoft products as a possible outcome. Given the fate of Microsoft acquisitions such as Nokia Phone and Skype, others still are concerned that GitHub will be left to decay, without adequate investment. That view stands contrary to the commitments today coming from Microsoft CEO, but only time will tell.

So if people move away from GitHub, what can they move to?

The primary alternative is the GitHub competitor GitLab. As of the time of writing, the hashtag #movingtogitlab was trending on Twitter, and the platform was reporting that they were seeing 10x the normal level of activity as several companies and individuals ditch GitHub and move across. For a large organization though, such a move requires planning, dependency mapping, and often significant effort; it’s not a quick move for any development house with continuous integration and continuous development pipelines dependent on GitHub.

Another alternative is ‘self-hosting’ – where an organization hosts their own source code repository. This option comes with its own set of costs – in staff time and labor – and may not be the most appropriate option for an open source organization where there are significant contributions from an external community.

What does this mean for Mycroft?

Well, we're not going to make any big decisions just yet. We want to wait for the dust to settle and better understand what Microsoft's plans are for GitHub. Then, we'll look at what alternatives are available, and importantly, the costs, benefits, and risks of each option.

What are your thoughts? Let us know below.


Not sure if you’ve heard of KeyBase.io but they have a Private and Public Git solution available.

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Hey @SalvorinFex I was actually a beta tester for the Keybase.io Git integration.

When I tested it, it worked beautifully for private repos, and for an individual workflow, however the group workflow was quite clunky through the interface at that time. Due to the encryption, it also tended to be a lot slower, particularly if the repo size was anything but trivial.

That said, I really liked the idea of ensuring code was encrypted, but I’m not sure the encryption is necessary for every workflow.


Oh okay I see. Yeah, probably not necessary for Mycroft, just didn’t know if it was on anyone’s radar.

Always been a fan of Atlassian - Bitbucket, because of their intergrations with JIRA, Trello, Confluence and others. Especially company / Group / Team development-wise, the addition of JIRA and Confluence has always been very powerfull.

Not used it anymore for the last few years, but guess they are still fine.

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I had a teacher who used to tell me, “What we learn from History is that we don’t learn from History”.
When you read headlines like
“Microsoft Further Embraces Open Source by Joining Linux Foundation”
"Microsoft Bought Github for $7.5 Billion, Embracing Open Source "
“Microsoft embraces open source in the cloud and on-premises”
“Microsoft Embraces Bitcoin. Here’s What We Know”
Most people read “embrace”, I read “prepares to strangle”.


I don’t like that MS acquired GitHub either, but I won’t switch to another service just now, not unless MS does something I can’t accept. If I switch, maybe some other tech giant will buy the service I switch to, and I can think of owners worse than MS.
I think that MS has shown a more genuine interest is open source as of late.
And btw, I already have a GitLab account, due to their free private repos. We also use GitLab at work, self hosted.

But maybe Mycroft should host their own Git repository?

I believe that Microsoft has evolved considerably since those days, my sense is for the better, and towards “good citizenship”. And while certainly not altruistic or even entirely trustworthy, I think that the E,E,E approach is not necessarily the intent for all Microsoft endeavors. I would advise “cautious optimism” and if things get uncomfortable I am confident we would have plenty of time to extract all content and migrate. I do not think there is any need to have anxiety just now.

Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt to perhaps spend a little time developing a plan, maybe even a set of scripts to have a semi-automatic exodus.

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I vote to move out ASAP pls I already moved my projects to gitlab and private repos, also my work, and my clients. so I personally wont go into github much anymore

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+1 I use it to with my hacker collective to work on security tools keybase is awesome.

I don’t find a real reason to move away from GitHub and I really don’t understand this hate for Microsoft products. Can you please explain better?

It’s not a hate for the products - every product has shortcomings, and Microsoft’s aren’t even usually the worst there is. It’s a desire to be independent of the megacorp monster. That applies not just to Microsoft, but to Apple, Google and Amazon too (which is why we’re here at Mycroft anyway).

Microsoft won’t be making any unpopular changes to GitHub for quite a while, I’m sure, but it would be good to at least be prepared with an exit plan before we get locked in. And though it really won’t make a difference since our existing data was part of this original sale, any more information I can keep Microsoft from learning about me is a net positive.

Then as far as exit strategies go, discussions and suggestions on ways to get off GitHub are some of the most popular projects currently on GitHub, ironically enough. We can sit tight for a while until something gains some traction. I’m enamored with the idea of ActivityPub federation for self-hosted git servers, but it’ll need time to shake out.

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Anyone who doesn’t think Microsoft is planning to kill each and every piece of open source out there by any mean is very naive at least. Since their FUD techniques against Open Source in general and GNU/Linux in particular they evolved to the more neat EEE strategy, but, in the end, they eventually plan to do the same: the return to their golden days where they were the king.
I’m advising everyone I can to take a look into GitLab, yet it doesn’t have all the features of Github (as far as I know) it powerfull enough and they are discussing for a long time GitLab’s Federation, so we can use our own GitLab account to make merge and PR in others GitLab instances.

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Just putting this out there, GitLab is hosted on Azure.
Maybe because of their gain from the anti-Microsoft exodus they’ll change hosts, but right now moving from GitHub to GitLab just means moving from one MS host to another.

Edit: Hosting info for GitLab on Shodan

There is a sizeable legal difference (Microsoft now owns GitHub’s user data, vs “only” providing the hosting for GitLab), but good point. That’s why I’d prefer, wherever (and if) we move, federation to give a far easier option for switching hosting providers.

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Minecraft used to be good too, until M$ bought it out and favorited the W10 edition with all of it’s microtransactions, and lack of support for all of the greatest mods out there. Lets take a moment to imagine how and where M$ can put in those money makers.

I cant see how Microsoft, Amazon, or Google who are in direct competition with any other AI platform, wouldn’t at some point, interfere, spy, or sabotage the new upcoming threat. Mycroft’s core principles and base concepts are 180 degrees out of phase with corporations like Microsoft. If privacy and security is really what Mycroft is all about, it should never allow Microsoft to host its source code, or to have any control of it whatsoever. It would seem to be a conflict of interest to the general public looking to purchase a Mycroft device, as well as many of the developers who truly believe in what Mycroft stands for.
Furthermore, I don’t blame Github for selling out to Microsoft, after all, at some point, i’m sure they figured they would cash in on the many years of hard work put into their company. But as far as Mycroft goes, shifting to a secure and private host for its code is essential for its credibility moving forward.
I do believe in what Mycroft stands for, and that when it comes to doing what is essential for credibility and survival of its AI project, it will in the end, make the right decision regarding this matter.
It’s up to us to protect this small flame of privacy, security, and freedom, from all those who would extinguish it with the winds of change.


I think they are now on Google Platform, but in the end, that’s the same: Amazon, Google or Azure are corporate giants and we should avoid using them. But as @mactrent said, is not the same hosting files that using the services as a whole.

Anyway, I was also saying to self-host our own GitLab instance. Setting up a GitLan and some CI tools are not difficult at all, and a minimum requirements are needed. I don’t mind to create an account in each and every GitLab repo out there (I’m doing this since years now) but I can see the potential on Federation, so we could have some like github or gitlab.com but with self-hosted instances.

I think most people here believe that digital independence is a must, and depending on big companies is against our nature, besides that the point here is that Microsoft, not other but Microsoft, had adquired the biggest code repo at the moment. On tuesday they said it will continue doing the same as is doing right now, but then, why spend $7.2 billion to do the same? If history teaches something for this company is they are good in business, they are good eating competition, they are good giving something “for free” (my clients are mainly hospitals and city councils) and when you rely in their infraestructure, then they force you to pay just for licenses, making more expensive to migrate to another infraestructure.

The wise action now is flee from GitHub. Just in case. They can close tomorrow github and all its repos without notice, they have done it something similar in the past. Surely they won’t, at least while Satya Narayana will be in the charge, but that can change in a blink of an eye. Better to be ready.

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I feel as though the Mycroft team should move all the code out of GitHub as soon as is feasible. This is a huge red flag, i.e. “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish”. GitLab is an excellent alternative ― I have long preferred it to GitHub anyway ― and BitBucket is also doing pretty well.

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