GitHub has maintained a long and profitable love affair with all things Apple, but today, the folks behind the most popular code repository site are sullying their allegiance to Cupertino with — get ready to gasp and clutch your pearls — a Windows app.
The reason for the existence of the GitHub desktop app for Windows is easy enough to explain: GitHub users are sometimes also Windows users, and they often find collaborating on code projects to be a pain in the patootie.
“We thought Git was going to get better on its own on a couple other platforms, but it wasn’t advancing … and that’s sort of a shame,” said GitHub co-founder Chris Wanstrath in a phone conversation with VentureBeat.
“It’s the same situation on enterprise, but even more so — they want to use GitHub, but they’re having a hard time doing so,” he said. And of course, the bootstrapped startup doesn’t want to leave any of that tasty enterprise money on the table, and the enterprise is besotted with Windows.
But, Wanstrath said, the company made the decision primarily for love, not for money. “It was definitely motivated by the trouble people were having,” he told us.
Also, as the small company grows ever larger and as its userbase becomes more diverse, Windows tools are increasingly requested both inside and outside the company. GitHub has grown from a tiny collective of hackers to a 73-person small business, and naturally, some of those 73 folks are Windows enthusiasts.
“Our philosophy is that we wanted [the desktop app] to be by Windows developers for Windows developers,” said Wanstrath. “That’s been our success so far — the things we create, we want to use ourselves.”
That philosophy is part of why it took GitHub so long to roll out its Windows app in the first place: It needed to have the right people who would want to build the app for themselves and eat their own dogfood, to use a rather revolting idiom from the startup ghetto.
“We did the Mac app first because when we first started making desktop apps … we wanted to make something we’d use at the company, and most of the company was Mac users,” said Wanstrath. “We were a lot smaller then.”
The company also wanted to make sure that a desktop app would be used and loved by the community before sinking more resources into multiple applications, he said.
So of course, if you start thinking about platforms hackers love, you start thinking about Linux. But Wanstrath wasn’t ready to commit on that score — not yet, anyhow.
“We can’t really come out on that yet with a yes or no,” he said “but if that’s something people want, if that’s a neeed they have, maybe.”
Over the next few months, expect the Windows desktop app to see the same kind of loving attention and frequent updates the Mac desktop app has had since its launch. Wanstrath promised the Windows app would be maintained as well as the Mac app “if not better.”
“We’ve been growing a pretty serious team to work on this app,” he concluded. “It’s going to be a big part of GitHub.”
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