Microsoft is making a giant open source play by acquiring GitHub for $7.5 billion

Flickr via Ben Scholzen. Click for original.

(Image: © Flickr via Ben Scholzen)

The rumors you may have heard over the weekend about Microsoft acquiring GitHub in a massive transaction were true. Microsoft confirmed today that it plans on buying the world's leading software development platform for $7.5 billion, which as The Verge points out is Microsoft's second largest transaction (after LinkedIn) since Satya Nadella took the helm, replacing former boss Steve Ballmer.

Over the past decade, GitHub has grown to become the top destination for developers and coders to share their projects. As of this month, there are 85 million repositories on GitHub, with more than 28 million developers contributing to them, according to GitHub's own stats.

So what does Microsoft want with GitHub?

"Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness, and innovation," Nadella said. "We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges."

Around this time a year ago, Microsoft announced the shuttering of its own version of GitHub called CodePlex. The company encouraged developers on CodePlex to move their projects to GitHub, and offered up an import tool to make the process easier.

Buying GitHub is not as wild as it might sound. Microsoft is the top contributor to the platform, and it insists that it won't muck things up once the acquisition closes later this year, noting that GitHub will operate independently.

"GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects—and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device," Microsoft said.

Nevertheless, news of the acquisition has some developers feeling skittish about where things might be headed. According to Fortune, some of GitHub's users think Microsoft's leadership will get in the way of what GitHub is all about, and are looking at alternatives, such as GitLab.

Time will tell what kind of impact Microsoft will ultimately have. Barring any snags during the regulatory review, the deal is expected to close by the end of 2018.