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Microsoft Execudus Continues as Muglia Leaves

Well, how's this for timing? Your editor is working on a story about Microsoft's recent executive departures (now known here as the Execudus), and this week one of the biggest names in Redmond is headed out the door.

This time, it's a big one. Bob Muglia -- whom we've always wanted to call Bobby Mugs but never have until now -- is headed out the door. And apparently it's at the request of one Mr. Steve Ballmer. For those who have lost track, Bobby Mugs is -- was, we suppose -- president of Microsoft's pretty darn successful Server & Tools Business.

Evidently, he and Ballmer had a falling out over the division's strategy -- and we all know who won that battle. Ballmer is Microsoft now, and Microsoft is Ballmer. He has put his stamp in Bill Gates' company and has overseen the departures of a bunch of major executives, including Ray Ozzie, Stephen Elop and now Mugs.

There's some talk that Muglia wasn't on board with Microsoft's cloud focus, but Mary Jo Foley, whom we tend to believe in these matters, has her doubts about that. And we at RCPU do, too. What we see is Ballmer further consolidating his power in Redmond and getting his people in place while letting some of Gates' more notable people (Muglia is a 23-year Microsoft veteran) hit the road.

That makes us nervous, and it should make partners and customers nervous too. Sure, Microsoft needs new blood and innovation as much as any company, but Server & Tools was a notable strength in Redmond. And if there really was a conflict between Ballmer and Mugs about the cloud, it probably doesn't help that the guy who created much of Microsoft's cloud strategy, Ray Ozzie, is also a short-timer with the company.

What's most disturbing about this situation is that Ballmer doesn't seem to be replacing these executives all that effectively. Combine that with a stagnant stock price, a pathetic mobile strategy, an almost complete lack of response to the tablet craze and some really questionable product releases (Vista, Kin, Zune...), and it's hard not to question exactly what Ballmer thinks he's doing with Microsoft.

In fact, it's hard to understand just what Ballmer wants Microsoft to be. From what we can tell, he primarily wants it to be his operation, maybe even at the expense of the greater good of the company. We hope that's not the case, but we have a feeling we're not the only ones who feel that way. It's just conjecture, but we suspect that Bob Muglia might agree.

What's your take on Microsoft's executive departures and Steve Ballmer's leadership? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 01/10/2011 at 1:23 PM


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