Microsoft announced a change in GitHub pricing today, and it’s great for anyone learning to code. In the past, GitHub charged $7 a month for a private repository. But now those are free if you have three collaborators or fewer.

The New Free Tier Is a Boon to Students

GitHub has always had a free tier, but in the past, that free tier was limited to public repositories. If you were an aspiring coder who wanted to delve into source control, the best affordable option was to make your code public. That’s not always appealing, especially in the early stages of learning when your code might be something of which you are less than proud. Even after landing your first developer job, when it comes time to move on or work on a side project, you might not want to have your work out in the open for your current employer to see.

For an employed developer, this wasn’t a difficult problem. GitHub charged $7 a month for private repositories. While that cost does add up over the year, it isn’t too challenging to put together $7 a month if you have a job. For students, who might not have the time or capability to work while learning, that fee can be harder to put together. The cost might have prevented students from using a resource that could not only give them more experience with source control but also give them a valuable place to store their work for future job prospects.

Today’s announcement is a win for those students. Private repositories are free so long as the repository has three collaborators or fewer. This is a reasonable compromise that ensures Microsoft can see profit from GitHub for commercial projects while extending a great benefit to those who could use the help the most. Anyone who does need more than three collaborators can continue to pay $7 a month for GitHub Pro.

Businesses Benefit, Too

Microsoft is simplifying GitHub’s business options as well. Instead of offering GitHub Enterprise Cloud and GitHub Enterprise Service as separate services, Microsoft is rolling them into one:  GitHub Enterprise. Businesses can now access both for one per-seat price.

Overall these changes should help GitHub continue to develop a healthy ecosystem of users. The new free tier for private repositories will be a boon to students and small developers alike.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code.
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