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Linux Foundation: “Microsoft has the means to make GitHub better”

Microsoft’s $7.5bn (£5.6bn) acquisition of the code repository GitHub is a “good thing” for the open source community, the director of the Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin has said.

In a blogpost, Zemlin dismissed fears that Microsoft is engaged in a “sinister plot” to acquire the 70 million open source projects hosted in the repository.

“Most of the important projects on GitHub are licensed under an open source license, which addresses intellectual property ownership,” Zemlin explained. “The trademark and other IP assets are often owned by a non-profit like The Linux Foundation.”

News of the acquisition sparked confusion in the developer community last week, with some questioning Microsoft’s commitment to open-source software. But Zemlin sought to allay these fears, noting that the company has become a top contributor to Linux and Kubernetes, both of which are open-source projects.

“Microsoft has the means and the expertise to make GitHub better,” Zemlin wrote. “They brought in Nat Friedman as GitHub’s CEO, someone I have known for years and has been well-respected in the open source community for a couple of decades.”

Friedman joined Microsoft two years ago after the tech giant bought his software firm Xamarin. In a statement, he said GitHub would continue to operate independently of Microsoft and retain its “product philosophy”.

“We love GitHub because of the deep care and thoughtfulness that goes into every facet of the developer’s experience,” he said. “I understand and respect this, and know that we will continue to build tasteful, snappy, polished tools that developers love.”

The deal is due to be completed later in the year and will represent the third biggest acquisition in the corporation’s history, following takeovers of LinkedIn ($26bn) and Skype ($8.5bn).

Announcing the deal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company recognised its responsibility to the developer community: “We will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world’s most pressing challenges.”