Over the course of the 90’s and ’00’s, Microsoft became notorious for competing aggressively with the very concept of open source – free software, developed by teams of volunteer programmers from all over the world.
Since Satya Nadella took the CEO job at Microsoft in 2014, the company’s views towards open source have evolved. Microsoft has embraced open source, and even supports the open source Linux operating system on its Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform.
Don’t believe the love is real?
Microsoft Corp. sent shockwaves through the tech world a couple of years back when it first began seriously embracing open-source software, and now the company can proudly boast that it has the largest number of contributors to projects on GitHub – the so-called “Facebook for programmers,” and the hub of the open source world.
The stats that GitHub released a few days back are about which companies have the most employees contributing code to open source projects and Microsoft weighs in at #1, with 16,419 contributors, edging out Facebook with 15,682.
Of course, it also means that Microsoft is ahead of Google Inc., a company that identifies with the open-source software movement more than most others. Google had 12,140 contributors working on GitHub projects in the last year, GitHub said.
We probably shouldn’t be all that surprised at the news, though. While Microsoft was long considered to be the arch nemesis of open source, the company has performed a complete about-face under the leadership of Chief Executive Satya Nadella, contributing to numerous projects and also open-sourcing many of its own technologies in recent months, such as PowerShell.
It’s great to see Microsoft adopt and stick with this approach to building tools and services that developers can take advantage of, without having to invest heavily in closed systems – while also being able to contribute to and improve them.
GitHub CEO Chris Wanstrath believes Microsoft is truly committed to the open source movement. In an interview with Fortune, he noted, “The big .Net project has more people outside of Microsoft contributing to it than people who work at Microsoft.”
It’s also worth noting that the company’s Visual Studio Code text editor made GitHub’s list of repositories with the most contributors. You can check out these lists, as well as other data from GitHub’s platform on this page.