Culture Change at Microsoft

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-09-08 Print this article Print


How much of a culture change has there been at Microsoft?

Significant. You can't underestimate the influence in our organization of Bob Muglia and of [Chief Software Architect] Ray Ozzie.

Bob is the commander, the senior vice president in charge of server and tools, and he reports to [CEO] Steve Ballmer. Bob is the company spokesperson for interoperability. And to have that coming down from the top is inspiring because he's an engineer.

Then Ray says we live in an increasingly interconnected world, where the value of software is based on how many different systems it can connect to. So in that world interoperability is table stakes. And he goes one up and says information and digital management is part of our social fabric. That's how we pay our taxes, it's how we do our health care, it's how everything happens. So that's all got to be transparent, and it's all got to work together. So he's bringing about a change in perspective.

How would you characterize the steps you've made toward open source thus far? Baby steps? Entry level?

Apart from video games, I'm a really big football fan. After February I really don't watch TV anymore. So I see us as being like on the 30-yard line.

Which 30?

We're on our 30; we have 70 yards to go. In 1996 Bill Gates had to send the Internet tidal wave e-mail to turn the company around. And by 2005 every single product in the company had embraced Internet models. So we went from "missed it" to "completely got it; it's just part of the fabric." To me that's the end zone, that's the touchdown.

I think in 2005 it was pretty reasonable to say we missed open source. In, I think, 2015 we should be doing a touchdown dance. Right now we're three years into it. I'm pretty happy with what we've been able to get done this year with the things we're announcing. So it's not a beginning; we've already begun. It's not an ending; we're not close. But it's good progress. Sometimes you just have to have a pretty good ground game-get 2 yards and 3 yards at a time.

So what's the touchdown?

I can't say for sure yet. I'll know it when I see it.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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