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Microsoft Execudus Continues as Muglia Leaves

Well, how's this for timing? Your editor is working on a story about Microsoft's recent executive departures (now known here as the Execudus), and this week one of the biggest names in Redmond is headed out the door.

This time, it's a big one. Bob Muglia -- whom we've always wanted to call Bobby Mugs but never have until now -- is headed out the door. And apparently it's at the request of one Mr. Steve Ballmer. For those who have lost track, Bobby Mugs is -- was, we suppose -- president of Microsoft's pretty darn successful Server & Tools Business.

Evidently, he and Ballmer had a falling out over the division's strategy -- and we all know who won that battle. Ballmer is Microsoft now, and Microsoft is Ballmer. He has put his stamp in Bill Gates' company and has overseen the departures of a bunch of major executives, including Ray Ozzie, Stephen Elop and now Mugs.

There's some talk that Muglia wasn't on board with Microsoft's cloud focus, but Mary Jo Foley, whom we tend to believe in these matters, has her doubts about that. And we at RCPU do, too. What we see is Ballmer further consolidating his power in Redmond and getting his people in place while letting some of Gates' more notable people (Muglia is a 23-year Microsoft veteran) hit the road.

That makes us nervous, and it should make partners and customers nervous too. Sure, Microsoft needs new blood and innovation as much as any company, but Server & Tools was a notable strength in Redmond. And if there really was a conflict between Ballmer and Mugs about the cloud, it probably doesn't help that the guy who created much of Microsoft's cloud strategy, Ray Ozzie, is also a short-timer with the company.

What's most disturbing about this situation is that Ballmer doesn't seem to be replacing these executives all that effectively. Combine that with a stagnant stock price, a pathetic mobile strategy, an almost complete lack of response to the tablet craze and some really questionable product releases (Vista, Kin, Zune...), and it's hard not to question exactly what Ballmer thinks he's doing with Microsoft.

In fact, it's hard to understand just what Ballmer wants Microsoft to be. From what we can tell, he primarily wants it to be his operation, maybe even at the expense of the greater good of the company. We hope that's not the case, but we have a feeling we're not the only ones who feel that way. It's just conjecture, but we suspect that Bob Muglia might agree.

What's your take on Microsoft's executive departures and Steve Ballmer's leadership? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on January 10, 2011 at 11:57 AM

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Reader Comments

Wed, Jan 12, 2011 Redmond

I worked at Microsoft for 13+ years and spent 5 years working closely with Bobmu. He is a class act. This is a huge loss for Microsoft. There are few leaders at Microsoft who both understand technology and can genuinely connect and inspire trust with both customers, partners and employees like Bobmu could. He will be missed by all.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011

Ray Ozzie's last day at Microsoft was December 31.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 Charles

I agree with with a lot of comments on here, pro MS and not. You can't argue with one thing, the bottom line. MS dominates so many areas, yet the press would have you believe the iPad is killing MS. On the contrary, MS just posted its biggest earnings ever in 2010. Yes, it's a different climate now that Bill is gone, but MS isn't about Ballmer trying to be Bill, it's about MS doing what it does best, software. The Zune was awesome no matter how you looked at it, I have owned over 7 iPods and got 1 Zune HD, and it rocked, but yes, it NEEDS an equalizer, and thats IT. But back to what I was saying, MS does a lot of things right, Win 7 is great, much better than anything they have done before, Win Phone 7 looks awesome, Bing beats Google in user friendliness hands down, Kinect is selling millions, but wait.... no iPad equivalent? Who cares? If you like iPad so much, keep it, use it all day, I really could care less. I have Windows 7 and it does all I want it do, just fine. MS doesn't need to put Windows 8 until it's perfect, that's whats wrong with society today, you get a group of people who have an idea and they try to push it down everyones throat.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 Tom

As far as Bob M's departure I really don't know, but there are a lot of remarkable people working there that inspire many such as Scott G. It's hard to say what MS should do and it's tempting to say their too slow to embrace change. But when you've grown so large and are supporting so many business critical sys, it's not always easy to change. There are certainly user-frequented places whre they can make relatively quick/productive changes such as the UI of Hotmail (which I believe needs to be rethought) and the PC Zune sw which is nice but could benefit from the addition of Internet radio streaming and an equalizer.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 Tom

"If Windows 7 is so good on tablets, why are they not selling?" - I believe it's because of their less than stellar marketing strategy and an apparent lack of a user friendly ecosystem (meaning the whole user experience). From my experience Win7 does work well on tablets, but ask anyone what comes to mind when mentioning 'tablet' and they'll say iPad.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 David Williams Alpharetta, GA

Why so much derision for Mr Ballmer? Seems he has been an important part of MS for quite some time now. Mr Gates obviously has been a believer in his abilities. The Execudos does make me a bit anxious. MS Servers & Tools rock.

Tue, Jan 11, 2011 Michael Michigan

What made Microsoft such a power house during the Bill Gates era, was the fact that techies ran the business. From turning the company around to embrace the web, to taking on Oracle with SQL Server, to becoming the dominant server OS and having Visual Studio become the dominant development platform .. it was the techies like Bob Muglia. The business folks missed on Courier, and windows mobile. If Windows 7 is so good on tablets, why are they not selling? As a former employee, I would not keep any stock in the company. How long will they let Steve ruin what Bill built? How much loyalty does he deserve from Bill?

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 Charles B Oklahoma, USA

Mr. Ballmer certainly has the right to prune the tree. He _IS_ the CEO. I am a Linux Fan myself, but if getting rid of some Veterans left over from the Bill Gates' era is what has to happen for Microsoft to come into the 21st century, then so be it.

Note to Mr. Ballmer: I hope you know what you are doing. Your past examples aren't helping you... much.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011

While there is no competitor to Office and Windows MS is fine. If in the next five years though a company like Google decide to deliver a real Office competitor and someone manages to put in place a strong support organization to handle business, MS could get hurt quickly. Take a look on how fast Apple iPhone crushed MS Windows Mobile. With cloud computing and access to bandwidth, less MS services will be required.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 mrmarlon

I worked for MS years ago and thanks God I left. Luckily Google did not after Office by creating a decent Google Docs. Microsoft by now has failed on Win Phone 7. Only trolls posting believe Windows is great on a tablet. New generation out there using smartphones on Android and iPads do not give a jack s* about Windows.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011

"Windows 7 Premium works fantastically on the slate" How many Microsoft tablets have been sold since the mid-2000s? What is the Microsoft share of that market, at this moment? What was 9 months ago?
After more than 25 years, the value of Apple is higher than the value of Microsoft. After 10 years our company is taking off Microsoft logo from our business cards. Yes, we are still in Microsoft partner program but no, it doesn’t support our own brand any more.
Sorry, but the company in Redmond is not the same one that BG left few years ago. I will continue using Microsoft products, but I sold my MS stocks.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 Bob Hengen Gilbert, AZ

I don't always agree with Mr. Ballmer, but then again I'm not privy to all the facts. The leader should pick his team. Looks like he is doing just that. MS is still the best software company IMHO. I'm excited about the MS cloud strategy. Everything seems to be moving (however slowly) in the right direction.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011 Jon Davis

"an almost complete lack of response to the tablet craze" .. huh? Windows has been on tablets successfully since the mid-2000s, and as for the new slate form factor (e.g. iPad) as a happy owner of an ExoPC I am happy to report that Windows 7 Premium works fantastically on the slate. Windows 8 will seal the deal for most folks, but Microsoft has a 2-year primary Windows operating system life cycle, quit hollering about the sky falling, everything is just fine. iPad was only just released less than a year ago; relax.

Mon, Jan 10, 2011

It has been said that few men can carry a full cup, Ballmer proves again he is not one of the few who are gifted leaders, but one of the unfortunate power sots destined to destroy the things given to them.

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