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With npm Acquisition, Microsoft is Set to Own the Largest Software Registry in the World

Microsoft has been betting big on open source for past few years. Apart from open sourcing a few things here and there, Microsoft is contributing a lot to Linux kernel (for its Azure cloud platform).i To further strengthen its position in the open source world, Microsoft acquired the popular open source code hosting platform GitHub for $7.5 billion. Now Microsoft owned GitHub has acquired npm ( short for Node Package Manager). npm is the world’s largest software registry with more than 1.3 million packages that have 75 billion downloads a month.

If you are not familiar, npm is a package manager for JavaScript programming language, primarily the hugely popular open source Node.js. Though npm has scope of private repository for enterprises, most of the 1.3 million packages are open source and/or used in various open source projects. Both node.js and npm are used by big software and IT companies like IBM, Yahoo and big corporations like Netflix and PayPal. In case you are wondering, the acquisition amount has not been disclosed by either party.

Microsoft’s proposed plan for npm.

GitHub CEO Nat Friedman assured that Microsoft intends to keep the npm registry available as open-source and free to developers. Once the acquisition is complete, Microsoft is going to invest in the registry infrastructure and platform. It plans to improve the core experience of npm by adding new features like Workspaces, as well as bringing improvements to publishing and multi-factor authentication. Microsoft also intends to integrate GitHub and npm so that developers could trace a change from a GitHub pull request to the npm package version that fixed it.

Part of a larger plan.

First, Microsoft bought GitHub, the platform that had the largest open source repositories and now npm, the largest software registry. Clearly, Microsoft is tightening its grip around open source projects. This could allow Microsoft to dictate the policies around these open source projects in future. When Microsoft acquired GitHub, several open source developers moved to alternate platforms like GitLab but GitHub remained the first choice for the developers. Microsoft did introduce some innovative features like security advisories, package registry, sponsorship etc. Microsoft is expanding GitHub by forming communities around it specially in developing countries. Recently, GitHub announced its Indian subsidiary to specially attract young developers to its platform. So now Microsoft owns the professional social network LinkedIn, developer oriented GitHub and npm. This indicates that Microsoft will continue its shopping spree and will acquire more open source related projects that have substantial developer population.

What could be next then? WordPress because it is the most popular open source CMS and runs 33% of the websites on the internet? While we wait and watch for Microsoft’s next move, why not share your views on this development? Comment section is all yours.

Last updated March 17, 2020 By Abhishek Prakash


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