Microsoft Office Exec To Take Over Windows - InformationWeek

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Microsoft Office Exec To Take Over Windows

Steve Sinofsky has led the Office charge for the past few years. He has been characterized as a manager who makes the trains run on time.

Microsoft Office impresario Steve Sinofsky is slated to take the reins of the Windows team.

A Microsoft source confirmed the news, which surfaced in a Wall Street Journal report Wednesday morning.

Sinofsky, senior vice president of Microsoft's Information Worker Product Group, joined Microsoft as a design engineer in 1989 and for the past several years has led the Office charge. He has been characterized as a manager who makes the trains run on time.

That ability could be a big plus on the Windows front, where Microsoft hasn’t been able to lock in to a product release schedule. On Tuesday, the Redmond, Wash.-based company said the Windows Vista client won’t make it out to the masses until January. Microsoft had promised general availability for the 2006 holiday season.

Two years ago, Jeff Raikes, now president of Microsoft's Business Division, said the following of Sinofsky: "In every positive sense of the word, Sinofsky runs a machine. He really does. I have so much admiration for the way in which he pulls the team together. Picks a date and a focus, and he brings the team together to envision what the future and the themes should be."

The Windows group hasn’t been so fortunate. Longhorn, the code name for the next-gen Windows Server, has been plagued with delays, and work for the client was split off. Several of the planned major subsystems also have been pulled forward to work with currently shipping versions of the operating system.

In fact, the Office team has had to rejigger its release plans because of Windows delays. For example, the upcoming Office 2007 originally was planned as the Longhorn version of Office. But as the OS continued to slip, the Office team changed course and is now positioning the products to run on Windows XP and Windows 2000 and to take advantage of some Longhorn/Vista perks.

Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platform and Servers group, told press and analysts Tuesday that given quality assurance issues and channel partners’ desire to have a firm ship date in mind, only volume buyers will get their Vista upgrades as promised in November. Allchin promised that a beta 2 version of Vista will ship next quarter to up to two million people.

"Our industry partners need quite a bit of time and a high level of confidence [in a date]. In order for all of the industry to be ready, we've prioritized around customer and partner satisfaction for broad availability to be in January 2007," Allchin said.

Later in the day, Brad Goldberg, general manager of Windows client marketing, told CRN that fears of the delay ruining the holiday buying season for retailers are overblown. "We got feedback on the retail side that January has emerged as a bigger month for consumer and new PC sales [than December],” he said.

Nevertheless, solution providers weren’t amused by the news of the Vista delay.

"Tell me again why it's in our interest to put off the new business: deploying Vista, doing server upgrades, migrations and consolidations? How is it that's in our interest to wait when the delay will cause customers to wait for the new release?" said Ron Herardian, CEO of Global System Services, a Mountain View, Calif.-based solution provider.

"Software companies can measure their financial losses when a major release is delayed, especially in competitive markets where they lose share as a function of the length of the delay,” Herardian said. “Now we're being told that the same delay that will cause a loss to Microsoft is beneficial to us--not unless we're selling solutions based on something else besides Windows, like Linux or Solaris 10 x86."

Other solution providers have long said that delivery problems with Longhorn/Vista have hurt Microsoft's credibility with customers at a time when it’s struggling to respond to the competitive threats of open-source software and the new software-as-a-service model espoused by Google and

This story was updated Wednesday morning with confirmation.

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