WinInfo Daily Update, March 23, 2006: With Vista Shifting, Microsoft Will Shake Up Windows Division

With Vista Shifting, Microsoft Will Shake Up Windows Division

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In the News

- With Vista Shifting, Microsoft Will Shake Up Windows Division
- Xbox 360 Production Is Back on Track

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

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 Senior Vice President Steve Sinofsky to put Windows back on track. A Microsoft insider recently told me that the Windows division is full of the last vestiges of "the bad, old Microsoft. This can't happen quickly enough."

The shake-up could happen as early as this week. Under the new plan, Sinofsky will purportedly take control of Windows Development and report to Kevin Johnson, who is co-president of 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 code- named Windows version to follow Windows Vista. Vista is nearly feature- complete and needs only to be fine-tuned for release.

Earlier this week, a "Wall Street Journal" report about the management changes discussed the "old Microsoft" my source described, referring to the "Cowboy culture" of the Windows engineers. 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 again from scratch after recognizing that the project was going nowhere fast (Vista was originally scheduled for release in 2003.) Sadly, Allchin will retire at the end of 2006, but the addition of Sinofsky should help the Windows division overcome the loss of Allchin.

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

Xbox 360 Production Is Back on Track

After months of feeble Xbox 360 shipments, Microsoft's suppliers are finally up and running at full speed, the software giant said this week. The result? Within a week or so, retailers worldwide will be getting massive shipments of the popular video game console.

According to Microsoft, the component shortages that dogged the company during the critical holiday 2005 selling season are over. Microsoft says it will now be able to ship two to three times the number of consoles it was previously shipping to retailers. It has also added a third manufacturing partner to keep up with the blistering demand.

The improved production couldn't have come at a better time. Last week, Sony announced that it was delaying its next-generation PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console, which is seen as being technologically on par with Xbox 360, until November 2006. That means Microsoft will have the entire year to build a lead on its chief competitor, although the PS3 is ultimately expected to outsell the Xbox 360 because of Sony's huge installed base. But the PS3 will also be supply-deprived through the end of the year, meaning that many customers could turn to the Xbox 360, which will be widely available by then.

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