Microsoft Shuffles Deck Chairs on Windows Titanic

And so it begins. On Tuesday, Microsoft quietly announced the first major reshuffling of executives in its Windows Division since Steven Sinofsky moved into his new position as senior vice president in charge of Windows and Windows Live Engineering. Sinofsky was expected to engage in widespread Windows Division gutting after taking his new position earlier this year. This reshuffling appears to be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, of that effort.

The most notable departure is that of Brian Valentine, who will "contribute in another area of the company," according to an email message from Microsoft. Valentine, you might recall, shot to fame when he took the reins of the then-tardy Windows 2000 project and guided that product to market. Since then, Valentine's role has been largely ceremonial, and it's unclear to outsiders whether he's been contributing at all. But several Microsoft employees have explained to me that his impact on the internal workings of the company has continued to be strong during the intervening years. My guess is that Valentine will be sorely missed by the rank and file because of his dominating, yet comic, personality and strong leadership.

Valentine, who holds the title Senior Vice President, Windows Core Operating System Division, will be replaced by Jon DeVaan, who is listed as Senior Vice President of Engineering Excellence. The two will share duties until Valentine moves on, after which DeVaan will focus on "Windows operating system development, cross platform integration and \[working\] closely with Steven Sinofsky on the products and services coming on the heels of Windows Vista," according to Microsoft.

David Cutler, the mercurial ex-Digital engineer directly responsible for creating Windows NT, will be reassigned from Windows to work with Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie on "initiatives focused on Live products and services." Amitabh Srivastava, corporate vice president of Windows core operating system development, will join Cutler and report directly to Ozzie as well.

From what I can tell, this week's moves will do little to fix the problems with the Windows Division, where squabbling middle managers and lower-level employees makes it impossible to get anything done quickly. My guess is that Sinofsky is only beginning to make the changes necessary to get Windows back in shape. Expect far deeper cuts in the future.

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