Though the plans were first announced in 2005, the day has finally come. Jim Allchin, co-president of Microsoft's Platform Products and Services Group, is retiring. His departure tomorrow leaves Kevin Johnson in charge of the division responsible for Microsoft's operating systems, at a time of significant transition for the company and its platform.
A graduate of the University of Florida with advanced degrees from Stanford and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Allchin joined Microsoft in 1990, following a stint at networking software vendor Banyan in the 1980s. During his tenure he was responsible for overseeing some of Microsoft's most significant enterprise successes, including Windows XP and the .Net platform.
Allchin's retirement takes effect one day following the official consumer launch of Windows Vista, Microsoft's next-generation client OS. To some, his departure may be seen as a prudent move. Even before it became widely available, Vista fell under heavy criticism from beta testers and developers for failing to deliver on early promises, following repeated shipping delays.
These are Johnson's problems now, and plans are already underway to address many perceived shortcomings in Microsoft's OS releases. A major service pack for Vista is rumored to be in the works for release later this year. And still in the works is Longhorn Server, the much-anticipated upgrade to Microsoft's server OS.
Allchin commented on his time at Microsoft in an e-mail sent to press this afternoon:
Microsoft is an absolutely amazing company - full of such incredible people. In fact, when I came to Microsoft one of the things that struck me the most was just how many smart people there were. I had been around smart people at school and work before, but never so many of them. Not only were they smart though, they had incredible passion for technology, for learning, for improving, and most of all for changing the world using technology to improve people's lives.
What's truly amazing to me is that we are just at the beginning for what technology will be able to do. The next 50 years are going to be much more exciting than the last 50 (and that's saying a lot!) when you consider the potential impact technology advances will have on people and businesses.
Will Microsoft succeed in tightening the reins on its OS group under Johnson's exclusive stewardship? Will it manage to keep Vista and Longhorn Server on-track, or are still more dramatic structural changes necessary within the company? And what of Bill Gates' own forthcoming retirement? Send us your thoughts.