Whole lotta shakin' coming from the Redmond, Wash., vicinity, and I'm not talking about an earthquake. Yesterday Steve Ballmer beheaded his president of entertainment and devices, 22-year veteran Microsoftie Robbie Bach. Bach's top design guy, J Allard, went with him, though Allard is apparently being kept on in some vague advisory capacity (probably to keep him out of the hands of Google).
According to Allard, "no chairs were thrown."
Note that Bach is claming this is a "retirement" and was entirely his decision. I'm not buying it. If that were true, they'd have someone new in the wings to replace him, and Microsoft would be rolling out a big sheet cake with Bach's name on it. That didn't happen. This is a sudden, major reorg of a key part of Microsoft's business.
Bach got the boot because Microsoft is taking it in the assets in the mobile space, and the Redmond Behemoth has (belatedly) realized that's where its future lies.
Yes, the Windows Mobile OS sucks harder than an asthmatic at an oxygen bar, but I'm not entirely convinced that's Bach's fault. An interface that's barely tolerable from 18 inches away with a full keyboard and mouse is completely useless on a 2- or 3-inch screen and a teensy keypad. And yet for years Microsoft has insisted on bringing the Windows to Windows Mobile.
Whose vision was that? It wasn't Bach's. Windows on every device? Windows to control your phones and your TVs and the lights in your house? Windows in your car? That belongs to our favorite semi-retired billionaire, the churros-munching, hurricane-battlin' Billy Gates.
So with Bach gone, Steve Ballmer is taking over Microsoft's mobile operations. That's a little like saying, "Son, you crashed the car, so I'm going to hand the car keys to this gorilla and let him drive for a while."
For a change of pace here in Cringeville, let's look at what Microsoft has done right over the last decade. Yes, I know, I might sprain something. But bear with me.