EU To Rule On Microsoft GitHub Purchase In October

Microsoft’s hopes to enhance its developer services still have a major hurdle to pass, after European antitrust regulators said they will rule on Redmond’s open source acquisition in October.

In June Microsoft said it would acquire the code-sharing site GitHub for $7.5bn (£5.6bn) in a controversial deal, given the site’s emphasis on open source development.

Microsoft has, in the past, taken an adversarial stance against open source – something that still rankles with some within the developer community.

Decision time

Now antitrust regulators at the European Union will decide by 19 October whether to clear the American software giant’s purchase of GitHub.

According to Reuters, Microsoft had last Friday requested European Union approval for the deal according to a filing on the European Commission website.

The EU competition regulator can either give the deal their blessing (with or without concessions), or it can open a full-scale investigation if it has serious concerns.

The deal already has made some major Microsoft competitors nervous as the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon use the GitHub website to share their code.

But the most concern probably lies with the website’s 28 million developers, some of whom said they were concerned Microsoft could alter GitHub for the worse, as some would say it has done with past acquisitions such as Skype.

Microsoft concern

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella has previously acknowledged the ‘responsibility’ that came with the acquisition.

He said that following the deal’s completion, expected by the end of this year, GitHub would continue to operate independently.

San Francisco-based GitHub is to be run by Nat Friedman, the founder of developer tools firm Xamarin, which Microsoft bought in 2016. Friedman is an open source veteran respected by the developer community, Microsoft said.

Most of GitHub’s developers use it for free, but the company makes an estimated $200m a year from paid services, which allow accounts to be made non-public or for companies to run the software on their own servers.

Microsoft said GitHub would remain an open platform with access to programming languages, tools and operating systems of the user’s choice, and allowing deployment to any operating system, cloud or device.

Microsoft formerly operated a code-sharing site of its own called Codeplex, but shut it down last year, saying GitHub had become the “de facto place for open source sharing”.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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