With Vista Shifting, Microsoft Will Shake Up Windows Division

According to numerous reports, Microsoft is getting ready to shake up the management team in its Windows Division and bring in Microsoft Office head Steve Sinofsky to put Windows back on track. As a Microsoft insider told me recently, the Windows Division is full of the last vestiges of "the bad, old Microsoft. This can't happen quickly enough."

The shakeup could happen as early as this week. Under the new plan, Sinofsky will allegedly take control of Windows development and report to Kevin Johnson, who oversees the Platform Products and Services division. Sinofsky has a well-respected track record of shipping products on time. He's also a close confidant of Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, and is expected to focus largely on Vienna, the codename for the Windows version following Windows Vista, as Windows Vista is largely feature-complete and just needs to be fine-tuned for release.

A Wall Street Journal report about the management shakeup discusses the "old Microsoft" my source described, referring to the "Cowboy culture" of the Windows engineers. These people have been riding the Windows cash cow for years, but now Vista is crashing down around them after years of delays. This product was original scheduled for release in 2003.

Microsoft co-president Jim Allchin, who currently runs the Platform Products and Services division with Johnson, has already taken the biggest step in turning around the division. In 2004, he effectively shut down Vista development and started over from scratch after recognizing that the project was going nowhere fast. Sadly, Allchin will retire at the end of 2006 when Vista is finalized. The addition of Sinofsky should help the Windows division overcome his loss.

This isn't the first time a major Windows version threatened to derail. Microsoft performed a similar shakeup when Windows 2000 veered wildly off track in late 1998. At the time, the company brought in Brian Valentine, another shipment guru, to kick butts and get that product back on schedule. At the time, Valentine was well known for his work with Exchange Server.

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