​GitHub rivals gain from Microsoft acquisition but it's no mass exodus, yet

GitHub competitors have picked up thousands of new developers but in relative terms the numbers are small.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Video: What to expect from the Microsoft-GitHub deal.

Rivals of now Microsoft-owned code host GitHub are touting gains from developers who aren't happy with the acquisition and what it could mean.

GitLab and Atlassian's BitBucket are both playing up to negative reactions towards the acquisition and uncertainty among developers about the future. Both sites say developers are migrating in larger numbers to their respective sites.

GitLab said yesterday it had imported over 100,000 repositories from GitHub since news of the deal was confirmed on Monday.

Microsoft said it is paying $7.5bn in stock for GitHub as part of an effort to win developers and give a boost to Azure and the other developer tools it offers. Despite losing some developers, these numbers migrating are minuscule compared with the 85 million repositories on GitHub.

BitBucket also claims to have seen a noticeable spike in GitHub migrations since then, too. It hasn't provided numbers but highlights developers who felt sour about the acquisition and vowed to leave GitHub.

See: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF)

There have been mixed feelings among developers about the deal. As Steven J Vaughan-Nichols pointed out this week, some open-source advocates still distrust Microsoft, even under the friendlier leadership of Satya Nadalla compared with Steve Ballmer, who in 2001 called Linux "a cancer".

Others argue it's time to move on and accept that Microsoft is no longer an evil corporation hell-bent on killing open source. Instead, due to the cloud, it has every reason to support it.

And some believe it could be a competitive threat, allowing Microsoft to peer into rivals' software under development.

But while Nadella said the GitHub acquisition strengthened Microsoft's "commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation", it is also clear that the purchase will help bring Microsoft's developer tools and services to new audiences.

Slides presented by Microsoft this week highlighted that this approach would include Azure cloud services, also alongside AWS and Google Cloud. The slides also suggest GitHub users could soon start seeing various Azure services added to GitHub Marketplace.

"In the future, developers will be able to discover, adopt, consume and pay for everything they need in one place. This includes developer and cloud services from Microsoft and any party that chooses to participate in this open marketplace."

In the mean time, developers who fear the future of GitHub under Microsoft can enjoy being catered to by smaller rivals like GitLab.


GitLab said yesterday it had imported over 100,000 repositories from GitHub since Monday.

Image: GitLab

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