Microsoft Loses Execs, Shifts to Xbox

By John Taschek  |  Posted 2001-01-22 Print this article Print

It seems as if only a few years ago, employees were being called the key asset of most corporations.

It seems as if only a few years ago, employees were being called the key asset of most corporations. I suppose that was just the bosses attempt to persuade worker bees to stay around a while longer and work for less money. What a failure that was—now no one stays around, everyone gets paid too much, and the companies with dearly departed executives say

that they didnt matter in the first place. At least thats what theyre doing at Microsoft, which has lost several top executives over the last year.

The latest is Jim Ewel, the top marketer behind Windows 2000. I hope he wasnt made a scapegoat; I can safely say that marketing doesnt have much to do with Microsofts Windows woes. Instead, Microsofts monomaniacal pursuit of all things Windows is what is producing these chinks in the big companys armor.

Jim isnt the only one whos left the building. Starting with Nathan Myhrvold, the CTO, then top marketers Tod Neilsen, Pete Higgins and Paul Maritz have exited. It could be that Microsoft wanted to shake up the marketing staff, clean house and then light a fire under whoever remained.

Perhaps thats why, after these people left, almost all mention of their legacies was removed.

Microsoft has switched directions. Windows is simply a placeholder for .Net, something thats three years out. All the interesting stuff is happening on other fronts, like the Xbox, for example.

Sure, the Xbox might be a really cool game station, and maybe it will help turn our world into the one envisioned by Neal Stephenson in "Snow Crash." But to me, its another battle on another front that has already stretched Microsoft (and our patience) too thin.

And the Xbox is not the only new direction. Microsoft is showing off the Ultimate TV—a big threat to Tivo, perhaps, but nothing thats even remotely interesting to me (pun intended).

Some reporters think that with the Ultimate TV and the Xbox, Microsoft will allow users to be immersed in a new fantasy world, like the one in "Toy Story." That would be appropriate—a fictional world is far more suitable to a company without leaders than it is to the one in which I live.

All I can say to Microsoft is this: Have fun.

As the director of eWEEK Labs, John manages a staff that tests and analyzes a wide range of corporate technology products. He has been instrumental in expanding eWEEK Labs' analyses into actual user environments, and has continually engineered the Labs for accurate portrayal of true enterprise infrastructures. John also writes eWEEK's 'Wide Angle' column, which challenges readers interested in enterprise products and strategies to reconsider old assumptions and think about existing IT problems in new ways. Prior to his tenure at eWEEK, which started in 1994, Taschek headed up the performance testing lab at PC/Computing magazine (now called Smart Business). Taschek got his start in IT in Washington D.C., holding various technical positions at the National Alliance of Business and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he and his colleagues assisted the government office with integrating the Windows desktop operating system with HUD's legacy mainframe and mid-range servers.

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