40-Year-Old Microsoft Is Still Offering Surprises


Tomorrow, April 4, Microsoft will be a 40-year-old company, founded in Albuquerque, N.M., by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975. Allen was 22; Gates was 19.

Having written about Microsoft, on and off, for close to 30 of those years, I keep thinking I’ve seen it all. But then something else happens that surprises me, and makes me realize we still haven’t hit the limits as to how far the Softies might go to reinvent themselves.

This week’s jolt was Azure Chief Technology Officer Mark Russinovich casually throwing out there that open-sourcing Windows isn’t outside the realm of possibility. (Yes, he really did say that during a panel at this week’s ChefCon conference.)

Despite Russinovich’s “It’s definitely possible” response to a question about whether Microsoft might ever open-source Windows, I am still pretty doubtful Microsoft would go that far. My bet: Microsoft might open source more pieces of Windows, the way it’s doing with .Net, but not the whole ball of tangled OS code.

That said, these days, I never say never about what Microsoft might end up doing. And lately, the company seems to be doing things that are convincing a number of former Softies who left the company in recent years to come back. Ian Ellison-Taylor (from Google), Jeff Sandquist (from Twitter),Dave Mendlen (from Infragistics), and more have recently rejoined the Microsoft ranks.

Over the past couple of years, Microsoft has made some key organizational and structural changes, starting with the “One Microsoft” reorg, that seem to have shaken up the company in a positive way. And Microsoft’s very important decision to go back and focus on its core as a productivity software and services vendor, rather than trying to be Apple and/or Google, is something many Microsoft watchers have pooh-poohed or overlooked.

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SOURCE: Mary Jo Foley

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