Gates to go: Off to Swinstry?

June 19, 2006

"This is a smart thing for Microsoft to do," Mr Malik told the BBC News website.

"It signals a change of attitude andhow we think about Microsoft as a company going forward," he said. "The company needs fresh thinking more than anything else."Before now, Bill Gates had overshadowed the way Microsoft developed, said Mr Malik. Many staffers at the software giant doubtless asked themselves what Bill would think before deciding what technologies to pursue.

"The ghost of Bill Gates is everywhere in Microsoft and that means they measure things to Bill's standards," said Mr Malik.

While it will take time for Mr Gates' influence to fade, his replacement Ray Ozzie has a very different outlook on the software world.

All of which are great points – the news that Bill is shifting his priorities did come as a shock to me late last Thursday night but it should not have done really. The guy has been running this joint for over 30 years and he has done an amazing job. That job he has done has made him a wealthy man, a wealth that not many of us can begin to comprehend and with that comes responsibility. I can see where the guy is coming from – he does not want to leave this world having had any regrets about how he has used his time, expertise, contacts and wealth to make an impression from not only a technology point of view but in the standard of health of many millions of people – Go Bill go i say!

Now i think that the manner and timing in which this communication has been managed is excellent and i'll come on to substantiate why but it also raised some questions for me too, such as why shout this so close to the end of our fiscal? On the up, we have a two year run to Bill disolving his involvement and ensuring he does a good handover – Crikey i managed 3 weeks when i left Energis, maybe that says alot! but the main thing is it will not come as a shock to anyone least of all the shareholders or City groups around the globe.

What was important to realise, said Mr Courtot (commenting to the BBC) was that these changes do not just herald a shift in which technologies are used. They also bring with them big changes in what these technologies make possible, how companies prosper and what customers expect.

Gone are the days when a company could announce what it planned to put in the next release of its software and then spend years developing to that plan, Mr Courtot told the BBC News website.

The development of Vista, the next version of the Windows operating system, was a perfect example of this old-fashioned way of working.

"16 million lines of code and four years of development? This is insane," said Mr Courtot.

"Qualys develop on a continuous basis," said Mr Courtot, "there is no project that requires more than three months work."

Unlike makers of mainframe computers, such as IBM, which had about 15 years to adjust to the changes that overcame them, Microsoft was unlikely to enjoy such a period of grace said Mr Courtot.

There were few markets where Microsoft led the way technically and on the desktop and in office software its hold is likely to be eroded swiftly, he said.

What was likely to change in the near future was Windows, he said, to help it adapt to the more networked world.

"The operating system could be simplified significantly," he said. "It's trying to do too much, it's trying to be everything."

A very interesting point of view and i'll always jump all over anyone unless they can really justify how they can critise the most successful technology company of all time. Bring em on.


One Response to “Gates to go: Off to Swinstry?”

  1. Scott Manson said

    James, I agree. Bill has worked tirelessly for 30 years, building one of the most amazing corporations in the world. In leaving Microsoft he will be helping just as many people with his charity work in the ‘Offline’ world, as he has done during his tenure with Microsoft in the ‘Online’ world.

    Congratulations Bill.


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