For Microsoft Corp., acquiring GitHub Inc.
would be both a return to the company's earliest roots and a sharp turnaround from where it was a decade ago.
The software maker has agreed to acquire GitHub, the code-repository company popular with many software developers, and could announce the deal as soon as Monday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Microsoft's origin story lies in the market for software-development tools. Decades before former Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer jumped up and down on a stage, cheering for "developers, developers, developers," Bill Gates and Paul Allen co-founded the company to give hobbyists a way to program a new micro-computer kit, the MITS Altair.
But even as Ballmer celebrated the developers building proprietary software for Microsoft, in the early 2000s he and his executive team were highly critical of the kind of open-source program built in GitHub today. Open-source software allows developers to tinker with, improve upon and share code -- an approach that threatened Microsoft's business model. A lot has changed since then, and under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is supporting many flavors of Linux and has used open-source models on some significant cloud and developer products itself.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft is now one of the biggest contributors to GitHub, and as Nadella moves the company away from complete dependence on the Windows operating system to more in-house development on Linux, the company needs new ways to connect with the broader developer community.