Microsoft ‘s rise as a major contributor to open source has been almost meteoric since Satya Nadella’s arrival as CEO. The transformation of the corporation has been such that it became self-proclaimed as the number one open source after Linux became the most used operating system in Azure , its cloud computing platform.
However, it appears that Microsoft is losing its crown, as Helsinki, Finland-based consultancy firm Aiven has reported that Google has increased its number of contributors enough to overtake the Redmond corporation . This change in the first position comes in part because the search giant increased the number of monthly commits on GitHub by 20% compared to the data for the same period last year.
Heikki Nousiainen, chief technology officer (CTO) and co-founder of Aiven, has shown his surprise at the fact that Google has overtaken Microsoft. If we said earlier that Google’s increased contribution is only part of the reason, it’s because Nousiainen has argued that “ one factor in this has been a year-over-year decline in Microsoft commits to open source projects . However, Microsoft’s commitment to developer freedom and innovation is consistent, as the company is a major player in open source and even bought GitHub in 2018. “
Aiven has also highlighted that Amazon has started to focus more on Open Source through projects like OpenSearch, which was born as a fork of Elasticsearch . Possibly the most interesting fact, however, is that Google, Microsoft, and Amazon show a growing commitment to open source, having collectively increased the number of contributors on GitHub by 300% in the last six years, which betrays a competition between large corporations in this regard.
If one looks directly at the tables published by the Open Source Contributor Index (OCSI) , Google had 5,421 active contributors last July compared to 5,268 for Microsoft . The Mountain View giant has dominated every month of the year 2022, while the Redmond corporation did the same in 2021 with the exception of February, when Google managed to take first place.
The pique between Google and Microsoft for leading the contributions on GitHub is served, especially seeing that these companies are taking distance from others such as Red Hat, Intel, IBM, Amazon, Facebook and GitHub itself, which are the only ones that exceeded a thousand contributors in July 2022.
As we can see, large corporations have taken contributing to open source very seriously, but there is also a tendency to prefer to keep their cards to themselves rather than make a real contribution to the community, which translates into the prevalence of permissive licenses like MIT and Apache 2 against the GPL.