GitHub users now get unlimited private repositories – for free.

If you’re a GitHub user, but you don’t pay, this one is for you.

Historically, GitHub always offered free accounts but repositories hosted on free accounts were always public. This meant anyone could access, use, copy or steal your code. In order to get private repositories, you were forced to pay. Starting tomorrow, that limitation is gone. GitHub users now get unlimited private projects with up to three collaborators for free.

The amount of collaborators is really the only limitation here. There’s been no change in how the service handles public repositories, meaning they can still have unlimited collaborators.

This feels like a sign of goodwill on behalf of Microsoft, which closed its acquisition of GitHub last October. Some GitHub users were rather nervous about the acquisition (though it feels like most have come to terms with it).

It’s also a fair guess to assume that GitHub’s model for monetizing the service is a bit different from Microsoft’s. Microsoft doesn’t need to try to get money from small teams — that’s not where the bulk of its revenue comes from. Instead, the company is mostly interested in getting large enterprises to use the service which will require to pay to have more than 3 collaborators anyway.

The announcement of free private repositories probably took some of GitHub’s competitors by surprise, but here is what we heard from GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij:

“GitHub today announced the launch of free private repositories with up to three collaborators. GitLab has offered unlimited collaborators on private repositories since the beginning. We believe Microsoft is focusing more on generating revenue with Azure and less on charging for DevOps software. At GitLab, we believe in a multi-cloud future where organizations use multiple public cloud platforms.”

GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij
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