back to article Microsoft? Oh it's just another partnership, insists GitHub CEO

"GitHub has to be both independent and neutral," CEO Nat Friedman said at the company's Satellite event in Berlin – despite its acquisition by Microsoft in October 2018. "We treat Microsoft as a partnership, we have great partnerships with Google and Amazon and we continue to do that because for developers choice comes first …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Looking forward to new features in Office 365...

    All your source code are belong to MSFT

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Partnership and ownership are two different beasts.




  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "We treat Microsoft as a partnership"

    And that will last right up to the second Microsoft decides to not tolerate that any more.

    You have been bought. Microsoft owns you now. Do not make the mistake of believing that you are in control.

    A decade ago, there was a bank director in Luxembourg that treated the majority shareholder like any other partner. Curiously, that person is no longer the director of that bank. Gee, I wonder why ?

    1. Ian 7

      Re: "We treat Microsoft as a partnership"

      Other examples -

      Google buy Nest, Tony Fadell (Nest CEO and founder) and Greg Duffy (Dropcam CEO and founder, bought by Nest before they were bought by Google) leave saying it was a mistake to sell.

      Facebook buys Whatsapp, Jan Koum (Whatsapp CEO and founder) leaves citing a clash over privacy concerns.

      No idea why Microsoft are the only ones to get bashed on here - let's bash 'em all!

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "We treat Microsoft as a partnership"

        "No idea why Microsoft are the only ones to get bashed on here"

        What do you mean by "here". If you mean on this thread it's because the article is about a Microsoft owned business. If you mean on el Reg in general your argument is based on a false premise.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: "We treat Microsoft as a partnership"

      I have no idea what you mean! As a Red Hatter, I am looking forward happily to our forthcoming partnership with IBM...:P

  4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Dear Mr. Friedman

    Denial is not a river in Africa.

  5. WallMeerkat

    When you have been borged you can pretend to have a conscious mind, but you are part of the collective.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TiVoization, copyleft, MongoDB, Hauwei

    "Open source won because it is friction free. You can just go out and grab code that solves your problem and incorporate it into your software project."

    To grab the code, do you just have to reach into the series of tubes? Does it help to position yourself near an opening? In any case, what PPE should I bring?

  7. ThadiasVonBasterd

    "responsible for the gnome desktop"

    Some sins are unforgivable...

  8. zb42

    I think Microsoft overpaid for github. Microsoft appears primarily driven by a desire for revenue these days.

    I consider it very likely that in the next three years some big change will be made at github and people won't like it. I don't know what it will be but some middle manager or bean counter is going to come up with something that he hopes will get him a promotion.

    Long term there is a good chance of it being as independent as hotmail now is.

  9. GrahamsTenPenneth

    Of course we know the real prize

    So Microsoft are buying GitHub, no to own the source code, but to get it on Azure.

    There next big target is to take some of AWS's business.

    They don't really care about GitHub itself right now, so they'll let the GitHub guys play on their own I'm sure.

    Soon we'll see a rebranding of "GitHub on Azure" or something.

    Remember how they got rid of NetScape by leveraging Windows Desktops integration with IE.

    But it doesn't always work.

    Windows Phone anyone?

  10. Gary Edwards 1

    The Velvet Glove

    ​​The velvet glove approach has worked every time for Microsoft. ​ Over 30 years of Microsoft Lucy pulling the ball on developer Charlie Brown. Control of GitHub makes perfect sense to me. But using Nat as bitch bait is a bit much.​ ​

    Microsoft has a very successful history of using ownership and control of the computing platform to own the application development space. The support they provided developers in the early days of Windows was legendary. And it was real. The thing is, as more developers piled onto the Windows developer network, creating entirely new categories of applications, they had no idea that the opportunities they envisioned were actually owned by Microsoft. Sure, the support and marketing assistance provided by Microsoft was spectacular. But looking back, we were idiots. I was idiot #0055 to be exact.

    Once an application category grew towards profitability, with developers and investors drooling over the vision that their day had come, Microsoft would step in and seize the entire market category. Sometimes this was done with the mere announcement that Microsoft was planning on an application. As happened to the "contact management" category and the announcement of Outlook. Investment froze. Sales froze. It took three years before a decent version of Outlook made it to the market. But independent developers had been crippled.​ The opportunities they dreamed were owned by Microsoft and always had been.​

    Such is the power of platform control.​

    The platform controls the application space. And applications control the computational information they assemble and produce.​ New application developers need access to volumes of this application-specific information. And that information increasingly belongs to the Microsoft Azure and Office 365 Cloud computing platform. Want to access it? Sign up for GitHub. Kiss the velvet glove. And wait for Lucy to pull the ball on all the opportunities you thought would be yours.

    I recall ​my first JavaONE conference. The Netscape IPO​ in August 1995​ had set the world on fire with Internet fever. Java was presented as a means to develop Internet applications. It was incredible how many Windows developers were at th​e​ first and second JavaONE conference​s​. It looked more like a Windows-OS2 conference from earlier days. I felt like I knew everyone. ​I felt at home. ​In reality, though, I knew exactly why we were there. The Internet was a platform "used by all, owned by none". It was also the homestead of open source software communities​ (OSS)​.

    The friction between the OSS developers and Sun was palpable. We Windows guys looked on in wonder. The OSS communities feared that Java was a trojan horse designed by Sun to take ownership of the Internet application space. Which is exactly what had happened to Windows developers and explained why were at JavaONE​. There in droves.

    Even in the early days of public awareness, the Internet was a beautiful thing; a universal platform accessible to all. The first platform I had ever seen where communications, computation and collaboration could be integrated.

    We all know the years of corporate and OSS fighting over the Internet that ensued. The velvet glove Nat is wearing​ is another round in what is once again and always at stake.​ Silicon Valley Rule Number One: The platform owner owns the opportunities.

    A major difference this time around is that the early days of Windows (and then the Internet) was a time of great ​"​analog to digital​"​ conversion ​and creation ​of information. That conversion also meant that information came under the assembly and usage control of applications.

    The Internet ​wars, ​and ​the power of collaborative ​OSS ​communities ​determined that the underlying application platform would be open and accessible to all. But it was also true that ​going forward ​much​ if not all of the world's information would be application specific. Meaning, not ​universally ​accessible​ to new application developers. Unless it is OSS​ specific​.

    In 1995 I was working with​ the​ Intel ProShare ​Video Conferencing system ​developing applications designed to integrate communications with computational information and collaborative methods. ​ From today's perspective that would be seen as a perfect, Internet-only kind of project​. But back then there was no Netscape​, Java​, and no grand but exact vision of what the Internet has become​. The Netscape IPO came in August of 1995, with Java bursting out the following year. There was also the Windows 95 phenomenon that year. ​By then, Lucy had pulled the ball and the Windows development community was well aware that Microsoft owned all Windows platform opportunities. ​Opportunities they could seize at a​ny​ time of their choosing.

    Intel had lots of smart people. I mean, really smart. The idea of integrating communications with computational power, and wrapping it all in a new kind of collaboration ​platform ​burned hot. A marketing formula evolved to explain it all. The formula also explains why the velvet glove and where Microsoft is going​ today​.

    It was called "The Productivity Equation". Very cute. And it goes like this: productivity equals the computational integration of communications, computational information (data, documents, messaging) and collaborative exchange.

    It's cute. But there is something profound when you look closely at "computational information". What you will see is that much of the world's information is under application specific control. ​Own the application platform, and you own all the information those applications control. Keep your eye on the football Charlie Brown. ​

    No doubt we live in a world seeking ever higher levels of efficient and innovative productivity. Access to computational information is vital. But it's a world where ​MANY applications need to work on the same information sets. The "many applications" aspect of this statement is why we ​once again ​see​​ the velvet glove.

    ​Let's break it down. The ​Data ​part of the equation ​is not application specific. ​Data can move​ (thank you SQL)​. It can be accessed by many applications. If data applications had control over their information, Oracle would rule Cloud computing.

    End of Part I

  11. Gary Edwards 1

    The Velvet Glove Part II

    Documents though is another matter. Worse, with each passing day we are seeing that application control over documents translates into control over the entire productivity equation. Own the document part of the equation and ​you can own ​all the opportunities possible​ in a world where many applications need access to the document information.​ The reason why this is? Because the other parts of the equation are very open and nowhere near as controlled and application-specific as documents.

    S​ure, Oracle would love to leverage their​ application-specific data into a Cloud computing empire. But they don't anywhere near the iron grip on data that Microsoft has on Office-specific documents.

    ​The same holds true for communications and collaborative methods. No one holds an exclusive and essential control point in the equation.​ Not Slack. Not any communications giant. Which means that the Microsoft lock on document-based information can be used to leverage ALL other aspects of the equation.

    The relationship between the equation components is really worth digging into. The components have an integration pattern precisely because of how they came to be. Communications (messaging of many sorts) and computational content (data and documents) developed separately. A key part of the equation is the integration of these two, which makes possible the third component, "collaboration".

    Collaboration is the sum of integrated communications and computational information. There is also an inherent relationship between data and documents. Data is collected and then analyzed or otherwise embedded into documents. Documents are a higher form of knowledge in that they express human thinking, discussion, and analysis of data. A document is a form of linear communication. When combined with dynamic non-liner types of communication, and an Internet platform, the document spawns an awe-inspiring collaborative canvas where humans not only interact with each other, but also with intelligent applications of incredible computational force.

    The key here is that most of our business and workflow document information is locked into Microsoft applications. No business, enterprise or organization is going to move to a Cloud without also being able to move their data, documents, and methods.

    This why Google is having so many problems engaging business. They can't crack into the great transition of the Microsoft monopoly base unless they figure out how to work with native Microsoft documents. And do so without breaking either the documents or the workflows those documents fuel. Nobody is going to rewrite or replace those documents when they can go to the Microsoft Cloud and simply add value to what is already in place and profitable.

    In the big picture, it is not about Artificial Intelligence or any kind of new application. It's about access to precious data, documents and methods. The more information AI engines have access to and "can directly interact with", the better and more useful the engine.

    IMHO, all the Artificial Intelligence advances made by Google, SalesForce and IBM, spectacular though they are, are no match for Microsoft. Eventually, the messaging beauty of Slack will fail when confronted with even a half worthy version of a document rich MS Teams.

    The Silicon Valley behemoths can come up with all kinds of new applications and features. Unless we can unlock the billions of documents tied to Microsoft applications, the future of Cloud computing belongs to Redmond. Not even fabled first mover advantage can trump the power of control over computational content.

    First Mover Advantage is a myth when it comes to a computational content driven platform. The advantage belongs to those with application control over information, and new applications that control results in.

    Consider this: The Cloud computing phenomenon got it's first real traction as an application platform with the appearance of Google gMail and Wow, what a lead time these guys had! And when the iPhone burst on the scene in 2007, the race to the Cloud was on. AWS appears out of nowhere offering the massive Cloud computing power to individual developers.

    A 2014 Gartner Magic Quadrant report listed Apple as the number one Cloud provider. Number two was DropBox, followed by Google, SalesForce, and Box. Balmer retires in February of 2014, after the disastrous multi-billion acquisition of communications giant, Nokia. The velvet glove takes over, and Office 365 is released for the iPhone empire. Apple is looking good. Windows not so much. DropBox, SalesForce and Box rush to license Office 365. They couldn't wait to play Lucy roulette. And the new velvet glove welcomed them with open arms.

    What happens next is so incredible. With the release of Office 365, the entire Microsoft monopoly begins one of the greatest transitions in computing history; the move of their information and applications from a Windows platform to the Azure - Office 365 Cloud. The first move the new velvet glove asserts is the power of application-specific document control to transition the entire monopoly base of business and enterprise systems.

    By 2018, the Magic Quadrant is near wholly owned by two companies: Amazon and Microsoft. Four short years and the end game is in sight. Google is throwing lots of great and very promising AI, messaging and business automation stuff up against the wall. But nothing seems to stick. Which leaves them hanging by a Cloud computing thread. The rest of the Cloud computing leaders spawn an endless stream of promising and visionary application-features and possibilities; while Microsoft exerts iron-fisted control over document information these competitors need.

    end of Part II

  12. Gary Edwards 1

    The Velvet Glove Part II

    Whatever your sentiments are about Microsoft, you have to admit this great transition is being beautifully done. Amazingly, none of the competitors dare talk about what is really happening. But then, nothing can crush your stock value like telling the world your future is in the merciless hands of an iron-fisted but beautifully velvet gloved monopolist.

    In 2018 it was thought that the Microsoft Cloud was producing at an annual run-rate of $18 Billion dollars. A year later, the subscription-based run-rate is thought to be at an astonishing $33 Billion per year. And racing exponentially upwards.

    The key to this current announcement is the access that GitHub developers will have to the vast stores of computational information in the Microsoft Cloud. It is vital stuff for sure. Before you leap, remember this. Lucy is not your friend. The velvet glove fits perfectly an iron fist. And the opportunities you dream of, and pour your heart and soul, your developer skills and finances into? Well, those belong to Microsoft. Again.

    You will be thanked.


    the end

    1. Doctor Evil

      Re: The Velvet Glove Part II bis

      I'm certain MS had a nefarious hand in mistitling the 3rd section: they don't want it to be seen!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The huge slew of 404 repositories says otherwise

    Developers are closing accounts and moving source to less scummy products and companies like atlassian bitbucket and gitlab

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