Former Microsoft employee Tim Sneath admits he’s “shell-shocked” after the latest reorganization, claiming that Windows has been demoted as a product. Sneath spent 17 years at the company, most recently as a principal program manager working on Visual Studio.
“As someone who worked at Microsoft for seventeen years, it is incredible to see Windows demoted to a product without a seat at the highest table (the most senior person with Windows in their job title is ‘merely’ a Corporate Vice President, last I checked, and is not part of the Senior Leadership Team),” he said in a Medium post.
The reshuffle included the step down of the influential Terry Myerson, and the formation of two new divisions. Myerson’s Windows and Devices group has been split into ‘Experiences & Devices’, and ‘Cloud and AI’.
Sneath claims that an email from CEO Satya Nadella “underplays how far Windows is being scattered into the winds”. He argues that while Joe Belfiore will continue to lead the Windows experience team, the OS’ kernel team will be moving to Azure. He claims that HoloLens is also moving under Azure, which “may be its death knell”.
A Google Employee
However, while users should be somewhat concerned about Microsoft’s future, it’s worth noting that Sneath isn’t quite impartial. The former Redmond employee is now a group product manager for Google, a competitor in some regards.
In addition, claims that Windows will not have a seat at the highest table may be overstated. While Sneath is correct in saying that no employee with ‘Windows’ in their title sits on the senior leadership team, there’s more to it to than that.
In fact, the same can be said about Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar cloud business. Azure is now led by now executive vice president Jason Zander, who doesn’t sit on the senior leadership team according to Microsoft’s site.
Instead, Azure is part of the larger Cloud + AI platform, led by senior leadership member Scott Guthrie. Similarly, Windows fits under the larger Enterprise & Devices team, led by Rajesh Jha, a senior leader. The only real difference is that Belfiore didn’t get the same promotion as Zander.
Sneath also says HoloLens may face a death knoll after being moved under Azure, which may be misinterpreted. The new team combined multiple ones, and is labeled ‘AI perception and Mixed Reality’. It will “continue to build first-party products” alongside cloud services. The idea, according to Nadella, is for HoloLen’s Kipman to “take guidance on all AI-related areas”.
However, it’s clear that the former employee’s sentiments are in the right place. Over the years, Microsoft has transformed to be more and more suited to cloud and enterprise, sometimes to the demise of consumer-focused products. It’s clear that Nadella sees the company’s future in Cloud and AI, not necessarily operating systems.
With Windows losing market share, Windows phones dead, and the failure of Windows 10 S, it’s hard to blame him. While it’s unlikely the company’s hold on the desktop will change any time soon, it hasn’t been its main priority for some time.