It seems that Microsoft is buying Github for about 7.5 billion USD worth in their own stock.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Probably no reason to celebrate, but Microsoft under Nadella seems to run a totally different strategy than Microsoft under Steve Ballmer. Selling licenses of MS-Windows and MS-Office is probably still a good business, if done efficiently, but it cannot be the future of a company of the size of Microsoft. The dominating operating system is now Linux, mostly due to cell phones and tablets running Android, network devices and of course servers. The religious rejection of open source, as it was propagated by Steve Ballmer, is no longer visible. Some MS-Projects like C# and F# have in large parts or completely become open source and on the MS-Azure-platform virtual servers with Linux and PostgreSQL can be chosen, with the limitation that there seems to be a need to have an MS-Windows-box with dedicated software to manage the Azure cloud services. If we ask Richard Stallman this is probably all tactics to achieve bad goals by harming the free software movement. This can be true or not.
But we no longer have to automatically assume that this acquisition is bad. Most likely Github will continue to operate as it did before. Nadella will not shut down Github, while Ballmer might have done so, maybe. He would not have bought Github anyway for so much money. The real asset of Github as well as of LinkedIn and Skype for Microsoft might be the large collection of high quality identity data. Today Google and Facebook have identity data for about two thirds of the adult world population by my estimation. We see it in action when we find a „login with Google“ or „login with Facebook“ option for a web site. Yes, „login with Skype“, „login with Github“ and „login with LinkedIn“ would also be possible or even exist. This is the spot were these acquisitions might or might not be seriously negative. But increasing the pool of identity data makes a lot of sense for the new strategy of the company and I would assume that it was one of the major reasons for this acquisition of Github as well as Skype and LinkedIn before. Is it worth so much money? If the answer is quite obvious, we will probably know in the future.
Links are in English or in German…
It seems that Microsoft is ending the development of Windows Mobile. After having tried with some effort to get into the mobile operating system business, it seems that the market share is now less than 1%, with Android being >85% and iOS close to 15% according to IDC. Because the market is so large, it would be possible to run a profitable business even with a low market share, but this is probably hard for a big company and it seems more attractive to concentrate on other areas. It is good to have some good mobile apps available for the platform and that is an area where Android and iOS shine, while doing a third app for Windows phone is a bit unusual. A funny detail is that a retired guy, who was once the founder of Microsoft and who is still associated with that company by some people uses an Android phone for himself. But he is retired, so that is no longer too important.
The story is a bit weird, though… In 2010 Stephen Elop became the boss of Nokia. At this time Nokia had a market share of around 50% in mobile phones covering a wide range from tiny „non-smart“ phone to high end smart phones. They were mostly using Symbian as OS, but the transition to Maemo and MeeGo, like Android Linux variants, was on a good way and it would have been worth seeing where this might go. At this time it was already quite clear that MS Windows phone/Windows mobile was a failure. All efforts concerning Linux-based systems were stopped and Symbian was announced as being a dead end and the strategy was to move to MS-Windows phone only. Most likely this was done because Stephen Elop had more loyalty to Microsoft than to the company that he was running. To my knowledge this never became a case for the courts, but one might assume some criminal energy behind this. And some stupidity of the stock holders, who selected this person as CEO. Some time later the mobile phone branch of Nokia went down and was bought for very little money by Microsoft. After that acquisition it was further downsized and will probably go to zero soon, because Microsoft does not have interest to develop new hardware.
As it seems, there are mobile phones with the brand „Nokia“ again. HMD, a company in Finland designs them, pays to the company Nokia some money to use their brand. And of course they use Android.
The social business online network LinkedIn will probably be bought by Microsoft for around 26’200’000’000 USD.
Even if Microsoft has become a bit more trustworthy with Nadella then it was with Ballmer it remains an interesting question how much we should trust them concerning our data. The same issue arouse with Skype and other acquisitions in the past. Deleting an account probably does not change much, because it might just delete the access point to the account, not actually the data.
And anyway the NSA could query LinkedIn just as well es Microsoft.
In any case it is interesting to know about this acqusition.
Find more links yourself, it won’t be hard.
Microsoft has officially announced that their database MS SQL Server will become available for Linux in 2017.
I think the time has come for this. Since the departure of Steve Ballmer Microsoft has become a little bit less religous and more pragmatic. There are good reasons to be skeptical about companies like Microsoft and Oracle, but having more competition and more choice is a good thing. Maybe the database product from Oracle is slightly better than MS SQL Server, but there are very few projects where this difference really matters. So now we have five important relational DB products: DB2, Oracle, MS-SQL-Server, PostgreSQL and MariaDB (the successor of mySQL). When starting a new project with no specific constraints about the DB I would usually look at PostgreSQL first, because it is a feature rich and powerful open source database. Since database products are usually something that cannot reasonably be changed within one software system for decades this is a good thing, because we never know what the big companies want to do in such a long time scale. If the migration to another DB product is easy, then the software does not really make use of the power and the features of the DB. And it will not be easy anyway.
There are a lot of cases where the combination of MS-SQL-Server with Linux will make a lot of sense. Since there are software systems that make use of this DB product, it gives the flexibility to run the DB on Linux servers. And maybe avoid an expensive migration to another DB product. As I already said it gives one more choice. In development environments where MS-products are commonly used, it gives one more combination. And eventually it will encourage Oracle and IBM a little bit to refrain from excessive price increases.
It looks like Stephen Elop’s und Steve Ballmer’s idea to take over the mobile phone branch of Nokia in order to bring MS-Windows as mobile operating system on the success road has failed and will be stopped now.
For the mobile phone branch that is now part of Microsoft, Microsoft-CEO Satya Nadella announced, that billions are deprecated and up to 18000 employees will be layed off. This will be more than half of the remaining former Nokia-employees, but also other parts of Microsoft will experience major lay offs. As an irony these layoffs will also include Stephen Elop.
On the other hand it looks like Nokia will get into mobile phone development again. The deal with Microsoft forbids that for a certain time, but that will end in 2016. Some expect that Jolla might be bought by Nokia in the future. Nokia will become a niche supplier, not more. The market leading position they had before Elop will not be regained and it is also unlikely that they become one of several major suppliers, which might have been a reasonable outcome without Elop. Their own production won’t come back to Finland, but will be given to the well known Asian manufacturing companies.
Such fusions and takeovers of departments always have their challenges. Company cultures tend to be incompatible and markets are used to a brand and will not easily switch to the new supplier. Taking over of Pentax by Ricoh has been relatively successful, as it seems, but in that case they have carefully worked on mainting the brand in an area where consumers are kind of sticky to their traditional brand. Microsoft did not go that road, but they deliberately changed a lot and thus lost customers who might have been loyal to the Nokia-brand. The strategy in these two takeovers was completely different.
Probably Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop will be remembered as incapable managers for a long time, for first destroying Nokias core business and then losing billions on the takeover that was obviously the original intention behind the whole game.
Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella announced that Microsoft is withdrawing its support for the MS-Windows platform and concentrating on its core business, which is „services – services – services“. For a transition period of a few months, support for MS-Windows can still be obtained at an increased rate from Microsoft, but development and support have become too inefficient to be profitable and so the platform will no longer be supported by Microsoft in the future. Negotiations with Richard Stallman from the Free Software Foundation are performed about open sourcing Windows and having it thus continuously available for the existing customer basis. The FSF could take over the source code, continue the development as open source software and charge money for the support. But these talks seem to become extremely difficult, because Richard Stallman insists on not using the word „open source“ during the negotiations. Microsoft recommends using Linux as operating system for both server and desktop and plans to complete the transition of its own infrastructure within the next 8 months.
Nadella points out that this will increase the profitability of Microsoft and provide benefit to the stock holders, because the core business, services, can now be dealt much more focussed and intensely.
Aparently the UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source: