windows without gates?06/16/06 at 8:13 am | Posted in Tech | 2 Comments
It's hard to think of a Microsoft without Bill Gates, but that's what will supposedly happen as the software giant announced that Bill is stepping down as chief software architect.
A July 2008 transition for Bill has been announced, in which he'll cease to be a full-time employee on that date. Bill, however, will remain chairman and adviser, even as he focuses most of his attention on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Check out this story for more on Bill's plans for the Foundation.
Say what you will about Bill Gates, but the man has been as driven in giving away money to charity as he has been in toppling competitors and making Microsoft the giant that it is.
It's really hard for me to imagine a Microsoft not shaped by Bill's personality, though over the years he has been turning over direct control to other senior executives. This transition follows last year's worldwide reorganization that saw the company give more autonomy to three distinct yet complementary business units.
I think it's fair to say that a number of people who can't stand Microsoft mainly hate the way Bill does things. He's been lambasted as an evil genius, an underhanded competitor and a clever manipulator.
I'm not sure about the speculation of some pundits who are wondering if we might see a "kinder, gentler" Microsoft after Bill is gone. Microsoft has embraced its corporate culture for decades, and I don't think you can just change that mindset in a few years. Plus we don't really know how much of an influence Bill will still retain after he ceases to become a full-time employee. And considering how Microsoft finds it hard to meet shipping deadlines, will it actually be able to meet the July 2008 transition date for Bill, hehe. Heck, Jim Allchin was supposed to retire last year after Windows Vista shipped–hmm, so if Vista gets delayed again…
Maybe, however, we'll see some fundamental changes and Microsoft will take a long, hard look at some of its sacred cows and decide if these products or services still have a place in this brave new world. And poor Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer–now pundits are asking when he's going to retire. In fact, they're telling him he should, blaming him for the way Microsoft has floundered after Steve took over as CEO in 2000.
It must be hard for founders of a company to realize–or to be told–that it's time to let go.