The forked version of Node will work on other versions of Windows as well, raising concerns among developers about whether Microsoft's extensions are designed to lock-in developers as well as the users of those developers' apps into Microsoft's operating systems.
Given MIcrosoft's history of forking and extending other technologies like Java (where it also offered availability to Windows APIs), it's hard to tell at this point if this is good or bad news for the Node community. Microsoft's fork of Java, then a technology from Sun Microsystems (now a part of Oracle), sparked significant industry controversy and culminated in a $20 million legal settlement in Sun's favor.
Microsoft appears to be calling this a "temporary fork" implying one of two long term outcomes; (1) somewhere down the line, its fork will be merged back into the official distribution of Node, or (2) it will fix the incompatibility between the official distribution of Node and Windows IoT Core running on ARM. Of the two choices, the former is highly unlikely, particularly if it involves extensions that require a Windows operating system.
Leaning in the direction of the first choice however, the authors of Microsoft's announcement --- Microsoft Chakra Senior Program Manager Arunesh Chandra and Microsoft Chakra Principal PM Manager Gaurav Seth --- wrote "We will be submitting a pull request to Node.js after stabilizing this code, fixing key gaps and responding to early community feedback."
Still, some developers like Dave Winer, a software developer that does Node apps, have expressed concern over what the move by Microsoft means for the long term future of the Node.js community and others are responding.
Said Winer in a blog post,
Until now Node has been a pretty stable thing. You can move Node apps from one system to another without much concern about compatibility. Now all of a sudden, that's not true. If you're running on Microsoft's Node you might get a different result than running on some other Node.
Responding to Winer's Facebook post regarding the matter (which was deleted after this article was published), the fear and loathing was palpable as evidenced by the posts displayed below:
Of course actions speak louder than words and so the developer community will no doubt be keeping a close eye on Microsoft as it develops its interests in Node.js.