<b>Analysis: </b>Reading the Windows Reorg Tea Leaves

Microsoft on Monday announced another corporate reshuffling of its Windows department. Will the company's moves help the Windows wheels keep on turning through 2006 and beyond?

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Microsoft on Monday announced yet another corporate reshuffling of its Windows department. The overriding message: All the wood is behind one Windows arrow.

Its high time Microsoft did something like this. Remember the confusion earlier this year as to whether the company would release both a client and a server version of its next-gen Longhorn operating system? (After a lot of hemming and hawking, the ultimate answer was, yes, Microsoft will issue both. But theres still no official word on how far behind Longhorn Client the Longhorn Server release will lag.)

In spite of all the hoopla around todays reorg announcement, however, it looks like a lot of the changes Microsoft is making are cosmetic.

In short, Microsoft wants to separate Windows business and product development more completely than they already are.

Microsoft is establishing a Windows Leadership Team that sounds a lot like the existing BLT, or Business Leadership Team, that helps Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer concentrate on business issues facing the company. WLT will include Windows maven Brian Valentine, will include veterans Bob Muglia and Will Poole, the current head of Windows Client. (There will be a parallel Windows Engineering Leadership Team, as well.)


As a result of todays reorg, Brian Valentine is now 100-percent devoted to running the impressive-sounding "Windows Core Operating Systems Division," which is focusing on Windows client and server development. In reality, Valentines new role will not be very different from what he has been doing for some time now. As senior VP of the Windows Division, Valentine had oversight of Windows 9x, Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows CE and the various Windows Server iterations.

(For Microsoft watchers, Valentine should be a household name. Hes Group VP Jim Allchins right-hand man. Very outspoken and hard-charging, yet generally well-liked by the Windows troops. And crazy enough to wear a pink tutu when the occasion calls for it.)

But even this new "Windows Core Operating Systems Division," despite all the excitement Microsoft is attempting to build around it, isnt so new. There have been "Windows Core" client and server teams at Microsoft for quite some time. Microsoft execs are saying that the new Windows Core OS Division, unlike these existing core teams, will focus on more than just the Windows kernel; instead, the new division will concentrate on the broader "Windows Platform."

So what is really new about todays reorg? If you are a Microsoft customer, partner or competitor, heres what will really matter to you:


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