I applaud Microsoft for making structural changes in its Windows divisions — in effect, elevating service apps to the same level of prominence as shrink-wrapped apps — but I’m still skeptical. Replacing one monolithic group with eight smaller groups might seem rational, but it fundamentally feels cutting a large chaise on the Titanic into eight pool chairs.
At the same time, the emphasis on one person, Steven Sinofsky, as someone uniquely and innately able to impose discipline on the Windows development process strikes me as surprisingly naive. The troubles in the Windows group are far more structural and technical than personnel-related.
How so? Well, Microsoft’s organizational problem is like its Windows Vista code problem: Given the tasks going on, it has simply outgrown its ability to be effectively managed. The smartest thing the company could do remains breaking up into smaller companies, like plaforms, apps, live services, games, tools, and so on. While it almost certainly won’t happen, everything else — especially these increasingly frequent reorgs — feels more and more like fighting against the increasingly inevitable.