ALMOST to the day 17 years ago Steve Ballmer, then boss of Microsoft, the world’s biggest software firm, called Linux a “cancer”, meaning that the open-source operating system would spell the death of proprietary software. On June 4th, his successor, Satya Nadella, announced that the firm would take over GitHub, the main source of such tumours today, for $7.5bn. The deal is yet another sign of Microsoft’s startling recent metamorphosis.
GitHub is no household name, but among programmers it is as important as Facebook—which explains the impressive price tag for a firm that earned only an estimated $200m of revenues last year. More than 28m developers globally keep their code on the website, which offers all kinds of tools and services. Most important of these is allowing software projects, whether open-source or not, easily to pull together code from different contributors.
For Microsoft the deal is a homecoming. It used to be a kind of GitHub itself. When Windows,...Continue reading