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.