Microsoft-Owned GitHub Just Made It Free for Coders to Keep Projects Private in Small Teams

January 7, 2019, 9:51 PM UTC

Microsoft-owned GitHub just gave coders the ability to create unlimited, free programming projects, according to a blog post by GitHub CEO Nat Friedman. The service, acquired for $7.5 billion 2018 by Microsoft, formerly required a subscription for software developers to manage repositories of programming code that weren’t public shared, as with open-source projects.

The change allows coders to create an unlimited number of private projects with up to three participants at no cost. This move serves a dual purpose: It allows the Microsoft division to appear more generous to programmers, especially individuals and small teams, by eliminating a $7 a month fee. But it’s also a competitive loss leader, reducing an incentive for coders to pay for similar service elsewhere.

Although GitHub doesn’t lock in coders to remain on its service, the more that people become familiar with a fairly generous free offering, the more likely they are through inertia to upgrade in place as their needs grow.

GitHub relies on an industry-standard protocol that allows programmers to store copies of work in progress in a structure central repository that tracks changes for comparison and to revert back to if problems emerge. Over 31 million developers have used GitHub to create 100 million repositories, each of them a discrete project.