Microsoft Executive Diaspora Grows

The big news late last week, of course, was that Eric Schmidt will soon step down as CEO of Google and turn the company back over to company cofounder Larry Page.

As news goes, though, that story was a little bit boring. The whole thing seemed pretty friendly -- Schmidt will stay on as an adviser and as executive chairman and will no doubt continue raking in loads of cash. Everybody wins.

That's not so much the case in Redmond these days, where the Execudus that has seen the departure of Bob Muglia, Robbie Bach, Jeff Raikes, Ray Ozzie and a bunch of other honchos added another name to its list last week.

This time, it's Brad Brooks, a key Windows 7 marketing figure, who is leaving for Juniper Networks. On top of that, a former 'Softie is headed for one of the company's biggest rivals: Matt Miszewski, a former Microsoft general manager and government strategist, is on his way to Salesforce.com.

There's some debate as to how valuable highly paid executives really are. In Microsoft's case, we're about to find out -- just not at Microsoft. No, instead we'll find out how much these guys are worth based on their performances at other companies, most of which compete with Microsoft. Of course, there will be a reciprocal effect in Redmond unless Steve Ballmer either does some stunning recruitment or gets really good at doing a bunch of different jobs himself.

It can take years, we figure, for these sorts of things to pan out. But if in 2015 or so Microsoft begins to really struggle, we'll have to look back at the Execudus of the last few years as a possible cause for the company's stagnation. And if it doesn't, well, we've probably written all of these hand-wringing blog entries for nothing. Stay tuned...

How much will the departures of big-name executives affect Microsoft? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/24/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Ballmer Takes Hu to Task on Piracy

There's a whole "Hu's on First," Abbot-and-Costello-style routine to be written about Chinese President Hu Jintao, but since your editor isn't a comedy writer he'll (mercifully) leave that to someone else. In the meantime, Hu had a heck of a week in the U.S. last week, including some less-than-friendly (although totally appropriate -- even necessary) comments from Steve Ballmer about how the software piracy rate in China is 90 percent.

OK, OK, we can't resist just a little tidbit:
Hu's the president of China.
I don't know. Who's the president of China?
Yes, you do know. That's right. Hu's the president of China.
No, I don't know. Who's the president of China?
Exactly.
What? Who?
Right, Hu.
I don't know who!
Of course you do. Hu's the president of China.
I don't know. Who's the president of China?
Yes…

Oh, it's just not as good in writing. Try your hand at a Hu bit and send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/24/2011 at 1:23 PM2 comments


HP and Microsoft Unveil Appliances

OK, so we were expecting some blenders, maybe a washer or a food processor, but the appliances HP and Microsoft trotted out yesterday are more about cloud computing than what used to be called "home economics."

There are five appliances in total, one of which is intended to help companies build a private cloud "in a box." That leads us to wonder -- when is the cloud not the cloud? If it's installed and administered on-premises, is it still the cloud? And can the cloud be put in a box?

We're probably over-thinking this, or not thinking enough. Anyway, the other appliances include an Exchange-based messaging appliance and an appliance for building data warehouses that costs $2 million. That last one, called SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Warehouse edition, was code-named Project Madison during its development. Madison...hmm, why does Madison stick in the mind?

Oh, yeah. Madison, as in Wisconsin. Wisconsin, as in the Rose Bowl. Now we remember why Madison rings a bell. Yup, your editor is still giddy. And with that, we wish you a great weekend.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/20/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Apple Reports Spectacular Earnings

Apple is a monster that is consuming the technology industry. Its latest earnings report was almost comically awesome, and the company is now simply brushing off competitors the way a raincoat sheds water. Of course, Steve Jobs's health is still an issue, but credit where credit's due: Apple's getting the loot.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/20/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft Loses Another Key Person

Strictly speaking, he might not have been an executive, but Johnny Chung Lee, a researcher who helped develop the massively successful Kinect application, is headed for Google. How long can the Microsoft Execudus continue before Redmond is completely out of brain power? Why don't you tell us at lpender@rcpmag.com? Also, while we're writing about Johnny Chung Lee, let's enjoy some Johnny Lee. Of course, Buh-wheet would later make that song eternally his, but Johnny Lee sang it first.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/20/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft Releases New Embedded Operating Systems

The excitement was almost palpable last week as Microsoft rolled out Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5 and Windows Embedded POSReady 7. And, yes, we crack up every time we see the abbreviation "POS."

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/19/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft Quietly Gets Serious about Dynamics CRM Online

Microsoft has a strange habit of working on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. We've noted this before, and on Monday it happened again.

While much of the nation was sledding or skating on frozen ponds on Monday (hey, sunshine types, don't knock winter until you've tried it), Microsoft was busy talking up by far its most complete version of Dynamics CRM Online, it's software-as-a-service customer relationship management suite.

Dynamics CRM 2011 Online could put a serious hurting on Salesforce.com and Oracle, both of which (particularly Salesforce.com) have come to dominate hosted CRM with simple, sleek, feature-complete offerings. Finally, Microsoft is on the bandwagon with a version of CRM Online that does everything its on-premises counterpart does.

Plus, there's that old Microsoft calling card -- integration, in this case with Outlook and browsers as well as with mobile devices, including the iPhone. CRM 2011 Online is fairly cheap, too, with pricing starting at $34 per user per month.

So,  if CRM Online is the one that's finally ready to go toe-to-toe with Salesforce.com (and it is), then why on earth is Microsoft giving it the short shrift? No lesser a luminary than Steve Ballmer himself was there to introduce the product to partners and customers Monday...in Redmond...on a national holiday...in a presentation that wasn't streamed live online.

Seriously, Microsoft, what gives? You're sitting on a gold mine, as well as on some superb products, with Dynamics. Why do you always treat Dynamics as if it's some sort of country cousin or drunken uncle and only trot it out when nobody's around? Set Dynamics free, Microsoft. Give it the full launch treatment, with a party and a live stream and a debut date that doesn't coincide with most people sitting at home and sipping brandy by the fire.

Have you seen a demo of Dynamics CRM 2011 Online? What's your take on it? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/19/2011 at 1:23 PM4 comments


Jobs Health Leave Rocks Apple Stock

The fickle nature of the financial world is such that everything might have changed by the time you read this, but Apple's stock price took a bit of a hit on Tuesday with reports that the great Steve Jobs -- seriously, let's not even begin to deny the man's genius -- is once again taking leave from the company for health reasons.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/19/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Check Out the New RCPmag.com

The site you know and love has a brand-new look that is, frankly, fantastic. It also has tons of great content, as always, as well as archives of your editor's ramblings. Check out the new RCPmag.com today.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/19/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Reader Response: Microsoft and Google Go to Court

Ah, litigation. Where would IT be without you? Where would America be without you? But we digress... Not long ago, we wrote about Google winning a freeze on Microsoft's cloud deal with the U.S. Department of the Interior. In response, reader Philip thought that we might have thrown the word "winning" around to casually, but he's right with us other than that:

"I would not say that Google won in this case. They are simply going to get a better chance to present their solution. Ultimately they will most likely lose the business to Microsoft again.

Perhaps Google should improve their products and make them superior to Microsoft's rather than acting like a spoiled and whiney child who came late to a birthday party and now wants cake after everyone has finished. 

Google's cloud products and policies are amateurish and only suited for the SMB marketplace and for those that cannot afford better. You would think that after conquering the search engine marketplace with a superior solution, they would understand that they would lose business to a superior technology in another area.

My advice to Google: Grow up and make your product better than Microsoft's rather than litigating."

Philip, that was tremendous and dead on. For once, we have nothing to add. Thanks very much for your contribution.

Have anything to add? Add it at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/13/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Microsoft Execudus "Devastating"

Following on the heels of the departure of Bobby Mugs, one prominent former Microsoft honcho says that all of these folks leaving Redmond adds up to bad news for the company. OK, so Don Dodge didn't use the word "Execudus," but he should have. And he will eventually...

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/13/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


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