I didn’t much care when Microsoft bought LinkedIn, because no one actually likes LinkedIn. What little usefulness it has exists only because there’s nothing else in the space. A Facebook for work. Really? That’s boring squared. Who cares? But when Microsoft bought GitHub, I was really disappointed. I felt it was “unwarranted.”
Linus Torvalds wrote Linux, and changed the world. Despite never being able to make a dent in desktop usage, it destroyed what little progress Windows was making on the server side compared to Unix and minis, and now runs basically everything that isn’t a desktop (or an Apple device).
Then Linus changed the world again, and wrote git. Except for the absolute biggest repositories (e.g., Microsoft Windows, or, say, Oracle), it quickly ate all other source code management software, paid or free. And then Microsoft patched git to handle their codebase, and uses it now as well.
GitHub was one of the first big Ruby on Rails apps to prove the framework’s viability at scale; a huge platform success that didn’t involve either Microsoft or Oracle.
With all of this behind it, from my perspective, GitHub represented everything in the software world that was NOT MICROSOFT.
And then Microsoft threw a couple billion at the founders, the government shrugged their shoulders at such a “small” acquisition, and GitHub, like so many before, became another head on the software world’s biggest hydra. I actually felt a little betrayed by the founders, if I’m being honest. I hate the M&A activity that’s destroying our economy, capturing our government, and producing a new feudal-like aristocracy, but I suppose, of all the companies that had the resources to give the founders their exit, a DOJ-chastened Microsoft wasn’t the worst possibility. Certainly better than Oracle or Salesforce.
Now I see this tomfoolery in the updated version of Outlook, which my corporate laptop just self-installed. Uh, no thanks? In fact, I can’t imagine something I want less than this, but Microsoft is always surpassing themselves, so I’ll just give it time. I would complain about jamming more “stuff” into an already over-stuffed application, but Outlook may be the software world’s poster child for bloat at this point, so what’s another useless “social” add-on?
I’m saying all of that to say this: I fully expect GitHub to get some sort of LinkedIn integration like this in the near future as well. “Link your professional software portfolio with a click of the button!” it will say, as if you can’t stick a link in there already. And then it will build a graph of user data behind the scenes for only-God-knows-what further marketing purposes.
I also expect that there will be some linkage between GitHub and Azure Devops. I had been thinking that Microsoft would simply phase out Devops for GitHub. Devops has never been particularly interesting as a product. However, a thoughtful person on Twitter — “There are dozens of us!” — disabused me of that notion. I’m sure he’s right: Microsoft certainly has too many paying customers for Devops to do anything drastic with it now, and it has become another lame-duck victim of Microsoft’s own success, destined to limp on forever because of backward compatibility. But I’m certain that they’re not just going to leave these two, so-closely-related silos sitting right beside each other with no connection, and I’m also certain I won’t like it when they finally do something.