Microsoft Confirms GitHub Acquisition

After recent talks, Microsoft has now officially confirmed that it will be merging GitHub to master. The acquisition will cost $7.5 billion, and has received mixed reactions so far. A staple of the open source community, GitHub is well known to Hackaday readers, and has played a key role in developing an incredible amount of the software we use on a daily basis.

Microsoft has embarked on a community crusade of late, seemingly trying to win some respect from developers and makers. Under the encouragement of Satya Nadella, we’ve had Visual Studio Code, Typescript, the Ubuntu-on-Windows saga, and many more. It’s hard to tell whether these endeavours have succeeded in winning the hearts of the community or not, but those who distrust Microsoft may be looking to make a move away from GitHub. In fact, since murmurs started about the possibility of the acquisition, GitLab, one of GitHub’s major competitors, has reported 10x the number of normal repositories moving to GitLab.

How does GitHub make money? Mainly through paid private repositories plans, and GitHub Enterprise for businesses. This provides GitHub with enough cash to allow free public repositories for the community. It will be interesting to see what changes in business and culture are made (if any) by Microsoft’s Nat Friedman (founder of Ximian) who will be taking the role of GitHub CEO.

To keep a close eye on your GitHub activity, you can monitor your repositories with an LED matrix.

125 thoughts on “Microsoft Confirms GitHub Acquisition

    1. I don’t think any amount of cajoling is going to make me forget the utter regedit marathon required to make windows 10 a usable and reasonably bloat or spyware-free os. And i still absolutely don’t trust it.

          1. You’re free to prove that OOSU10 does something nefarious, or to write an open-source alternative. Conjecture, not quite surprisingly, means nothing.

          2. No, actually, that’s your job to prove that it’s secure. You’re the one who’s pushing it.

            Otherwise we’d be installing all sorts of “Internet Accelerator XXX!” tools just on the word that they -haven’t- been proven to be malicious -yet-.

          3. @werecatf… or I’ll just install Linux and get on with my day.

            I have better things to do than to piss fart around with registry settings or add more to the proprietary soup in the hope that it might disarm the spyware that ought to not have been installed in the first place.

            Then again, I’m in the happy situation where things that need Windows basically account for about 0.01% of my day job. I’ll have a little bit (about 40 hours) coming up with a Tridium Niagara training course, for which there’s a work-supplied Windows 7-based laptop that will do the job, and it’s only Windows based because Niagara don’t know how to run the training course for a Linux user (they do have a Linux version of their software, and I do use it).

            The rest of my day job, Linux is actually the best platform to use. I could conceivably do it on MacOS X or *BSD too, but Linux is native for things like Docker, so that winds up being the path of least resistance.

    2. “They’re still big patent trolls and don’t seem to be changing anything about that at all.”

      What’s the most recent instance of them using their patents offensively? Last I heard about Microsoft and patents was back in 2015 when they and Google were dropping pending lawsuits against one another.

    3. Because these days supporting it makes them *massive profits*.

      In the past they made most of their profits off their OS and app ecosystem, which was directly threatened by Linux and open source.

      Nowadays the big money is in cloud server infrastructure. Microsoft is coming to that party second, and open source is king in that space. And they have to sell it to a web-development community that has suffered for a decade or more supporting legacy IE compatibility because of MS’s previous behaviour.

      So they choice was to either proceed as before pretending that they can still leverage a monopoly they no longer have, and compete for a shrinking legacy market, or pivot, pour resources into supporting the leading platform and make it so attractive that developers will *want* to migrate to it. And then make lots of sweet, sweet money off them.

      1. Indeed, although as I’m certain you’re aware of the cloud is more than just web development. So the crowd they need to convince is the same the other two providers have to, plus some just on general experience dealing with MS.

  1. I for one, aren’t abandoning Github just because of this … I’ll sit it out a little while. That said, I have made a mirror of the git repositories I care about on an instance of Gitea I run myself, as a contingency plan.

    I still remember Microsoft’s top people telling the world about how Linux was a cancer, and their embrace of Kerberos which wound up being deliberately incompatible with other implementations.

    The good news is that git is distributed, it’s designed to be able to be moved around. So long as your commits are signed (and they should be), people can verify that the code they received via whatever mirror is authentic.

    Anyone remember getting done over? Linus just pushed his tree to Github and the Linux kernel development kept going, the world barely noticed! The hardest bit is the issue tracking, and even then there are ways to export that.

    About the biggest change people might need to get used to, is learning how to do a real pull request or how to generate a series of patches for emailing. i.e. using git the way it was intended to be used. It should not matter whether you self-host, use Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket,, Sourceforge, or anything else. They all inter-operate.

    If Microsoft ever tries anything to break that interoperability, they’ll find themselves dropped very quickly.

    1. This. At Ultimaker we had a discussion before we even started to use github. We realized that we could switch over pretty quick for the main work.
      We have over 200 private repositories now. But we have clones of those, so if github goes down, we still have those clones. We have an external issue tracker (jira) which works better then the github one. So we won’t even lose much. Pretty sure we would be operational within a week if github went down right now, mainly to setup all the IC links and other integrated tools.

      We’ll abandon ship if/when we need to. Not because of some FUD.

      1. Yep, agreed with the others here. To expand on an example mentioned twice, good luck moving your network infrastructure from ActiveDirectory to Kerberos+LDAP.

        How did we get there? One slowly cooked frog at a time. For Microsoft it’s just the good engineering of keeping the slope of the “convenience potential” steep enough to counteract the repelling forces…

        And never forget: they have perfected the skills of talking to your management, not to you. And perfected they have them!

        1. Yep… Our top management is in their pockets too. It’s difficult for us because of we want to choose an alternative solution because of something important that the MS alternative doesn’t support, we get a lot of disbelief from them. They really buy all the wonder stories the MS suits feed them. There’s a reason MS don’t talk to people like us. We have the knowledge to see through them and ask the hard questions.

    2. Well, you are forgetting the basic EEE strategy here. You can’t just move your repos to a different place when the “github git” is no longer the same as “standard git”, and something tells me it’s going to happen really soon, especially as clients get integrated in other products. You mention Kerberos, but there were a lot of protocols and standards that have been subverted like this, and I see no reason why git would be immune.

          1. Kind of hard to “hide” something in a public repository. Second if need be lawyers can get involved. There’s a reason most GPL battles get resolved.

      1. GitHub doesn’t own git, neither the protocol nor the client. If any company does it would be Google – they employ git’s primary maintainer, which is why updates to git protocol are officially announced on Google’s blog.

      1. +1 I for one would use it. I have grown to like supply frame (even if I was skeptical when they first took over) if they stated a git repo I feel like they would do it the right way and everyone would benefit.

  2. A better question is WHY Microsoft is willing to pay $7.5 billion for Github. Are they going to quietly change the user agreements so they can gain access to all of the juicy, juicy code for their own closed source developments?

    1. Microsoft’s cloud product only seems to attract naive MBAs…
      I think it probably is related to Docker based cloud APIs that transparently integrate github based build scripts.
      Microsoft could make user policies and changes to ensure only Azure products are “correctly” supported.

      “Embrace, extend, and extinguish… [middle finger…]”
      they haven’t changed in 3 decades, as people haven’t changed. The user communities within the code dependencies/forks ecosystem will certainly adapt, but the open source projects will shift away from shipping releases to deal with a borked IT issue.

      $7.5bn should be considered a compliment to those who embraced FOSS to share their ideas.

    2. Because the real money these days is in cloud server infrastructure, not in selling the code that runs on it. MS is pivoting to make their money off Azure, not off Windows Server. And that means Linux is no longer a threat, but an opportunity.

      They’ve done a bunch of really good stuff recently. But this is probably the big one – how they handle GitHub will prove whether MS is just pretending or has really changed.

  3. Yeah, first thing I’m doing at work today is working on migration of github private accounts on to local servers. I will leave the open stuff where it sits.

    1. This. It doesn’t matter who the provider is, “the cloud” is just “someone else’s server”.

      (Anyone write a browser plugin to swap those two phrases on the fly?)

  4. Does Github own Git? So long as they don’t GPL limitations still apply. If Microsoft wants to make Github’s Git incompatible with other Gits they will have to release there changes. That means it shouldn’t be possible for them to prevent you from taking your code out of Github and hosting it elsewhere.

    Meanwhile if you are worried I’d recommend watching for changes in Github’s use policies and always keeping a local copy. But.. if you were using a cloud solution owned by anyone else I would recommend the same things! And if you really have something to lose… get your stuff out of the cloud and host it yourself you lazy git! That’s the only way you can truly ever be safe!

  5. Microsoft makes a phone version of Windows, no one wants it, Microsoft makes phones, no one buys them, Microsoft buys Nokia forces it’s software into the market, no one buys it… Oracle buys Sun, Oracle won’t donate the OpenOffice name to the community. The community moves on, takes latest code, rebrands as libre office. Stratasys buys makerbot, changes licence, patents stuff, the community stops participating, moves on.

    Same thing over and over, the playground bully, forcing everyone to play their game in the sand pit, soon finds that everyone had moved to the swings…

    Sorry for you, type A corporate psychopath: community is about sharing, not profits, it’s fueled by people that build stuff for the pure love of it, not people that want to own the world at all costs. And even if corporates wanted to do the impossible and go against their nature, dodge vs ford
    makes is impossible for them to be human.

    The future is in the hands of the community. If Microsoft wanted to help the community, and score some brownie points, why not just donate a billion to github? Oh that’s right, never crossed their minds, and then there’s always dodge vs ford.

    The old structures if Capitalism work a charm when convincing someone to do the things they don’t want to do. In the software world however, where design is manufacture, and no one has to sit in front if a machine punching out washers, the power has moved from the factory owner, straight to the designer. The old power structures are unable to accept that they simply are no longer relevant.

    1. > If Microsoft wanted to help the community, and score some brownie points, why not just donate a billion to github? Oh that’s right, never crossed their minds, and then there’s always dodge vs ford.

      Is GitHub run by a 501(c)(3) or some foundation? No? Then why would Microsoft donate anything at all?

    2. More to it than that, I’m afraid. Some amount of “the community” at this point are creating prototypes/businesses in the *hope* that Big Someone will buy them out (Makerbot was a prime example of this).

      MS’ business model has always relied on the fact that broad implementation beyond the sharing/developing/experimenting community will rely on institutional implementation of standardized (if incapable) products – look at the software distribution in education or corporate as an example. MS’s history is that they will take what they can’t easily acquire outright, then bleed your operation out in court if you don’t like it. My guess is that they’ve bought the world’s biggest pre-patent library and will privatize anything in it.

      They have no interest in helping anyone unless it promises a direct future benefit, and the greatest comeuppance would be to have the users put *everything* explicitly in the public domain and then abandon the platform over a period of weeks because of user disgust. Look at FB’s ranking in social media platforms for an example.

    3. On Dodge v Ford
      If you start a company, either keep it to yourself or sell all of it to someone else. Then you can run it your way except where the local law comes in, which is unfortunate.When shareholders come in, it reduces your freedom (I dream of a world where the only crime is to unreasonably reduce someone’s freedom)

    4. >>….the power has moved from the factory owner, straight to the designer.

      Has it really though? Have the proletariat seized anything from the bourgeoisie?
      I don’t think so. There’s just too long of a supply chain involved for your utopian silent uprising to occur. You may not be punching out washers, but is punching keys really any different?
      At the end of the day Stratasys still owns the patents. Oracle doesn’t need OpenOffice to carry its profits, the merger motivation probably had little to do with OpenOffice. As for Windows phone I would argue that had more to do with the timing. Android and Apple had a duopoly on the market with vast app stores in place, there was no way in hell Microsoft was going to break into that market and get any meaningful market share.
      While there are alternatives to github, the motivation is corporate subscriptions not whatever community exists in the ecosystem. You’re talking about the song birds and deer when Microsoft has their eyes on the lumber and mineral rights.

      1. >”Have the proletariat seized anything from the bourgeoisie?”

        Protip: we’re all bourgeoisie – living in/of the third and fourth (or fifth) sector of economy on top of the few people who still extract and manufacture all the goods we need and want to consume. Our jobs is just to think up ways to make people pay us money instead of creating actual concrete value ourselves, regardless of whether what we do helps the first and second sector to produce.

        It’s not like 100 years ago when the majority of the people were farming the land of working at the factory, actually creating the things they needed for a living, and getting exploited by those who merely owned things. Now we’re the exploiters, the whole lot, constantly whining about why we matter – after all, who then is going to write that new online ad platform, or steal another hundred billion in music royalties.

          1. If wikipedia was truly community operated, it wouldn’t be begging for money all the time. Wikipedia too is a sort of beggar on the street corner doing a little jig to earn a dollar.

            It’s telling that Hollywood and the copyrights/royalties farming is a bigger part of our GDP than actual farming and food production. Less than 20% of the people make everything we eat, drink, wear, drive… and that’s not even enough because half the stuff is imported anyhow. It’s gotten this bad because it’s possible to make money out of subjective value and manufactured “needs”, and it’s easier to flip a burger than farm the cow.

            A guy tillls a field to grow potatoes. Another guy makes tractors for the first guy. Another guy buys the potatoes and sells chips to the first two like they couldn’t cook their own. A fourth guy makes video games to amuse the other three guys. A fourth guy goes on youtube to make a video game review and makes money by advertising and begging. A fifth guy teaches the fourth guy how to make money out of video game reviews – for money.

            That’s roughly the five sectors of economy. About half-way through that group of five there’s the shift from producing or facilitating the production of value, to consuming or facilitating the consumption of value to earn money. Each sector contains a smaller proportion of necessary and useful things to do. For example, the chips cooking guy is sort of 50/50 with whether he’s making a contribution by saving time, or making a loss by pushing junk food. The video game guy is more like 25/75 and the education guy is mostly useless, as most higher education ends up as an exercise of futility for the lack of jobs that actually need your advanced degree, or loops back into producing more teachers.

        1. I’m arguing (with a few jabs at Marx) against the idea that, somehow the ability for open source communities to jump and rebuild ship when their favorite host gets bought out by a large corporation with a conflicting business model has any impact on the future being in the hands of the community. People can keep creating new platforms to share on but large corporations are going to keep buying and gutting them.

      2. I doubt there is that much lumber and minerals there. It’s a loss making entity. This looks more like a strategic move, it’s about market share, or in this case market presence. A cost, in attempt to recast the corporate image. Until they are seen as friendly to the small player, innovative new products will appear on other platforms first and not theirs. They have become profitable, but not innovative, and in the tech industry, not being innovative is the march of the walking dead.

  6. > This provides GitHub with enough cash to allow free public repositories

    It would seem that it did not and still does not, according to most sources I read GitHub was losing money, not making money.

    As for MS acquiring things that work: They do have a history of ruining stuff, they do not have a history of making stuff better. I have yet to see a product that MS buys and that turns into something more useful afterward. MS *can* develop interesting stuff for sure, but I fear GitHub’s interface will first be bug-pested (like LinkedIn – one of the most buggy websites I have ever seen, obviously not serviced by professionals – or Skype, which is basically broken thanks to MS’s attempts to make it “better” hehehe).
    I was a paying GitHub user but have paused my money dropping in order to see what is going to happen. If GitHub gets linkedin (bugged) – I have my backups.

      1. Sorry what did you say? I was typing while you were typing so I could see (hear) what you were typing (said).

        Yea, I hate business skype. It’s a cheaper conference call but noise stomps on anything being said.

        1. I actually installed Skype(net) on my PC, but I never could make it work, now it starts automatically when ever I boot to Win7. I tried, and thought I had succeeded in removing it from start up scripts.

  7. “Mixed” response? I have not seen one human being regard this as even neutral let alone good. Microsoft has a 0% success rate at not ruining acquisitions. Thank god it’s github this time; at least that’s something where migration away is cheap and easy. Skype was way more painful.

    1. Err, that’s only because the outrages rage loudly while the neutral or positive persons just shake their heads while watching the spectacle.

      I really don’t get the outrage: If the code is public, it’s out there anyway. If the code is private: Why do you trust some XYZ corporation more than Microsoft? The only proper solution is: Don’t use random cloud services and host your repos yourself.

      All the “Move to GitLab” responses are bullshit (at best!). If you really can move your repos just like that without breaking half of your use cases, documentation and linking that means only one thing: Your repos are totally irrelevant!

      At this point I couldn’t care less whether Microsoft runs GitHub or not…

      1. But nobody (reasonable) is worried that Microsoft is going to take the code or damage it. They’re disappointed that the quality of service will go down.

        Also, moving git repos is really easy; you just need to change the repo URL and key at the endpoints (devs, CI, etc.). It would be slightly annoying, but no more than an hour’s work.

        What I’m sad about is the Github desktop app, which always took a lot of drudgery away. If that gets discarded or festooned with Azure integration ads and bloatware, it will be disappointing.

  8. That’s a really sad news. I’m going to close my github account right now. Remenber “linux is a cancer”. Today microsoft as undertsand they can’t fight against linux and open source so they use a different approch buy, pervert, destroy and close it like nokia for exemple. They try to be like “open source” but there not, they are here to make money by any means, like patent, microsoft make more money with patent than with usual buziness.

    1. > they are here to make money by any means

      What if the big money requires doing right by the dev community for once? The money is in selling cloud infrastructure these days, not in selling the code that runs on it. Linux and AWS is king in that space, so MS can only lose money with their old approach.

      That’s not to say they can’t fuck it up, but it won’t be because management was unaware of the new reality.

  9. I would say I’m neutral on this for now. (Assuming MS doesn’t try to redesign the whole thing which seems unlikely given the community of Github). The benefit I see is that several of my company’s industrial clients have some of the most hacked together crap code management you can imagine. They refuse to use anything non-MS without major validation efforts that they won’t pay for anyway. If the Github acquisition leads to an MS push for more user friendly Git integration and UIs then maybe I can guide our clients that way and finally pull them out of the dark ages. Not to mention that some industrial software companies (eg Rockwell and Siemens) seem to want to use proprietary repository software in the vacuum of MS not having anything themselves. I’d love for MS to go all in on git and help kill this proprietary management crap.

  10. Someone at Microsoft thinks that a large enough portion of developers using GitHub will start paying $10/month to continue using it.

    I’m thinking that those who stay are most likely already beholden monthly to Microsoft but the vast majority are not. Of the Fortune 50 customers with private repo’s, there will probably be some loss there but most will wait to see what new TOS look like. I mean with revenue ~$200 million and salaries eating up about $70 million, there’s way less than $100 million left for profit and Microsoft is paying over $7 billion. So you know darn well it is not about the financials.

    Let the migrations begin.

  11. Can’t be any worse of a mess than it already is.
    I really don’t understand how github can possibly be worth more than a coupla hunny thou but whatever. Apparently people will spend money on a network and shareable code solutions as quickly as a craigslist gimp and dog sweaters. I would have just bought a few yachts and jets and had a demolition derby.
    I guess at least azure and ms deep pockets inspire longevity lol

    1. Yes, LOL, “I guess at least azure and ms deep pockets inspire longevity lol”

      I won’t even bother listing the many projects Microsoft took over and became very different over many hoops developers had to jump through to keep up or just died eventually. Microsoft’s fingers are more like the kiss of death. Danger, Danger Will Robinson! Speaking of Danger –

    2. Buy a supersonic fighter jet and make it to carry passengers. Or phone friend Elon and set up a self sufficient space station. I personally would set up a massive vintage/veteran/classic car collection and spend the change on an estate (Most of England, with my big house in the middle of it)

  12. Would Microsoft be legally able to “mine” Github repositories for design patterns?
    I mean, let’s be honest, a lot of code on Github is crap, but could you build an AI to look for unique solutions? The public repositories are open source.

    1. What, like they could previously if they wanted to? That’s the thing about public repositories being public, anyone can go grab a copy of all of them and point their ML engine at it. You don’t need to buy the hosting service to do that.

    2. “Would Microsoft be legally able to “mine” Github repositories for design patterns?”

      Remember the New Golden Rule, “He who has the gold, rules.”
      Microsoft has gained a LOT of experience over the decades illegally mining others IP.
      Oh sure, they’ve been sued a time or two, but that only helped, in the long run, to get even better at it.

  13. truly an amazing comunity hackaday it is.

    I am Coto, a programmer like many of you. I support OpenSource code, OpenSource code allows you the freedom to run whatever you want in whatever platform you want. You have an idea? Go ahead and code it please.

    M$ will forcefully turn every license into theirs, through their “user agreement license”, so your software will be theirs. If not, they will manage to damage what the OpenSource code has done for us. For me OpenSource code has changed my life. I am a programmer that goes bottom up- top down, and also I reverse engineer a lot of machines. I have developed some algorhythms to code Nintendos, or algorhythms to understand closed source code much better than any other tools out there.

    Although I support GPL license, I bear no “FSF” Free Software Foundation flag, as they are corporate already, but I think GPL v2 is the best you will get currently from OpenSource code. Educate yourselves as much as possible, learn and share.

    That’s what every subject that I consider a scientist in software research (some of them gave their life for it), and when Github finally stablish a new OpenSource standard (it was Google before, but they turned out corporate as well… oh the irony), M$ comes in and buys.

    Bear enough knowledge so when things are starting to gather together in a single, big monster, you can have the tools for the knowledge so it remains distributed.

    1. You do not understand trademarking and copyrighting for IP. Calling a body of text “open source” has no meaning and does not impart any legal status. Assigning a specific, say, a GPL or a MIT type of license to a body of text has specific meaning and provides various IP status, depending on your local laws.

      Github has never established any open-source standards. ‘Open standards’ are recent, and were given limited, and useless, lip service during 2012 by the IEEE (which have become largely useless). Of the major standards development agencies, only the ITU has addressed the need for open standards; and the others (ANSI, IEC, ISO, etc) have no desire to see open standards.

      What does matter is NOT standards, it is the control of your IP. Copyright has been around since Moses was a boot Lance Corporal, and has been defined in many various and interesting ways. So concerns about mickeysoft owning all code on Github are foolish where the repository bear the boiler-plate license statements.

      As for all of the distributed shenanigans stuff, you kids made your bed, so lie in it or make another. You can stop me from using my own svn server and SCons when you pry my cold dead hands from the keyboard. Thhpppppppt.

        1. LOL. I was a ‘boot’ lance.Mostly because did not deploy for the first 25 months of my first enlistment. Am guessing that you that all other lances were ordained by the commandant and certified as non-boot status?

          Show me the freakin administrative or statutory law that declaring some text as “open source” indicates implementation of any usable copyright protection.

          Show me the freakin standard published by github, Do not care how many code repositories were poured into github, show me the freakin STANDARD.

          “boot Lance Corporal” is a pejorative term used among young enlisted Marines for those too inept to enter data into the realm of googlimania.

        2. [Brian]
          By “boot” do you mean “foot soldier”, as opposed to “being in Boot Camp (initial training)”?

          I did see (once) a Spec4 in US Army Basic Training. (he had qualified for his MOS (Military Occupation Specialty?)
          before Boot Camp -yes, rare!
          As Spec4 and Lance Corporal are the same Pay Grade (E-4) it is possible that the USMC could have a “boot Lance Corporal”, but I’ve never heard/seen of one.

          I’m just wondering if the disagreement about Moses is because of yours/theirs definition of “boot”.

      1. Also:

        “You do not understand trademarking and copyrighting for IP”
        Wrong and what a kinda ignorant thing you say. Of course I meant Software Licenses (in the grounds of OpenSource)

        Software Licensing has nothing to do with Copyright and Trademarks. Those *three* are different, let me paste a link for you:

        M$ doesn’t care about your copyright, but theirs in hope for replacement of your rights.

        Now on the OpenSource part:
        They care about the OpenSource tools that are on par with their code, protected by their licenses.
        Their licenses currently would have to adapt to current OpenSource code licenses since most people in the OpenSource world has made tools that are on par with M$ Licenses. M$ actually has been left behind in the Cloud Server Infrastructure. They want you to consume their goods 100%, not 50% and hopefully letting the other half goods to external developers aka, OpenSource.

        Now add the EEE M$ paradigm to the mixer. They can deprecate your code, add features, replace standard. Or they can let it rot.

        And before you raise *legal* issues, those are WIP (Work In Progress) since the above explanation “Software Licensing has nothing to do with Copyright and Trademarks”.

  14. This can help people to realize that GitHub is not everything and also support development of alternative solutions like GitLab, BitBucket, SourceForge (joke)….
    In the end this could be good stimulant for others.

  15. I’ve been working with MS products since 85. I wouldn’t trust them on ANYTHING. Just knowing the history of how Windows came to be should tell you what kind of person Gates is.

    1. I found it funny how Microsoft was telling the media that this acquisition was a move to “get back to their roots” with reference to their support of hobbyists. All I could think of was that first public letter from Bill Gates:

      An Open Letter to Hobbyists

      To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

      Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

      The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

      Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

      Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

      What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren’t they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.

      I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write to me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.

      Bill Gates

      1. I never had a problem with te gist of that Bill Gates open letter. respectfully I have ponder if those have problem with the letter are cheapskates in general, or go cheapskate when it comes to computer software. I have no doubt that Microsoft expects a return on that investment investment, how much hand wringing there is, the general public has no clue what will happen.

      2. Hey Bill: let’s make a deal: we pay for software for the first 5 years after its release, and we’ll keep paying as long as you continue to update and improve it, but a few years after you stop updating and improving you have to release all source and documentation to the public for free

  16. I will openly admit my ignorance of the details of the current ownership structure of github or any other company for that matter but it seems to me that the detail that is been swept under the carpet is that M$ is able to acquire x company. That means x company has been made available for acquisition. The current owners aren’t complaining, they have built a product and now someone is going to pay them for it.
    In the utopian way the current owners should be saying NO we’re not for sale our utopian ideals are greater than our love/need for cold hard cash we can live on the warm fuzzies of the community.

    1. wtf? There is no such thing as a privately-held company that is not for sale. The only question is price.

      Github did not invent git; MS did not buy git. They built a *commercial* service on git. They are a company. They exist to make money. Of course you can buy them, if you wave enough cash around.

      1. “wtf? There is no such thing as a privately-held company that is not for sale. The only question is price.”

        Apparently ” no such” and “question” gotten into a fight.

  17. wow, the FUD and bullshit here is amazing, and I say that as an semi-old-school linux nerd from the early 2.0 days. Y’all seem mighty concerned about who owns the centralised version of your *distributed* version control tool, it’s almost like that was your only copy of the code or something?

    A more-obvious take on why this is happening: look at how much code MS hosts on github. Probably cheaper to just buy the damn company than keep paying them. And there are huge (non-nefarious) business opportunities here for them, e.g. watch what happens when they install a one-click “deploy this repo to an Azure instance and make it live” button.

    More interesting than “they’re going to steal all my openly published code” (what are you smoking?) would be to consider what happens where github is used for non-coding purposes. Because everyone in technology – including in China – depends on github, it is one of the few, if not the only, sites remaining that is publicly/anonymously writable, accessible in China and always-https.

    So there are interesting things in the depths of github, like histories of what happened at Tiananmen Square 29 years and a couple of days ago. China can’t really block all of github, https makes it difficult for them to block specific repositories there, and up until now, they have had no leverage over github to get that content removed. You bet your stale bowl of hainan chicken that they have leverage over Microsoft though, and it will be very interesting to watch their reactions there.

      1. ASCII depth charge:
        allows any government legal precedence to infiltrate, exploit, and or charge anyone holding evidence of a crime.
        Other juicy details like the wanted murderer working at the white house to follow soon….

        Whoever did it is kind of irrelevant, as “W” sounds like a particularly retarded agent under 20.

      1. It is the cradle to grave metadata for profiling that I suspect Microsoft are most interested in. Imagine a basic AI profiling all the code on github and giving each file a cyclomatic complexity metric, a style metric, uniqueness metric, ….. And cross indexing by programing language, country and region. That distilled metadata has real world value, and will change over time. It could help companies decide where to setup for even cheaper labor, it is a tangible asset. They can even profile coding rates by the update times and diffs.

        And that is just off the top of my head, one simple idea how M$ can easily get a return on their investment.

        They can sell governments AI generated coding profiles for tracking down individuals who release malware. Disassembled binaries may have unique coding fingerprints that may match code from earlier in that individuals life. But it will probably be a shotgun effort with many innocent false positives.

  18. Perhaps I have found anything that would change my conclusion, IMO peer to peer looks to be underused by the maker community. Gravy trains eventually reach the end of the line. Rather than depending on a free central expository,Maybe P2P is the way to share. Not as simple as a centralized solution, but difficult for on entity to take over. While peers may com and go, most likely there will be plenty at any given time. I have a Linux station and use opensource software on most of my computers including my Windows computers. In the event this somehow adversely affects the maker community,the maker community has to accept some of the blame.

  19. One of the worlds largest software companies now controls the private repos for over 1.5 million companies / organisations. Some of whom must be competitors……

    We all know what is coming, it’ll happen at some point. Someone claiming MS stole their code. Does not matter if it;s true or not, all the paying customers will move just in case. Then no github……

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