Story Pitch: Microsoft’s “flattened” Windows 7 team and what it means for business

Dear Steven Sinofsky, Jon DeVaan, and Frank Shaw:

(For those who don’t know, Frank Shaw is the guy who, at Waggener Edstrom, runs the Microsoft PR account there, and Steven Sinofsky and Jon DeVaan runs Microsoft’s Windows team. Steven and Jon blog on the Windows 7 engineering blog and Frank keeps a personal blog too).

I’ve been keeping in touch with a few of my friends on the Microsoft Windows 7 team. The sources I have are developers, not leaders, but they’ve been telling me about how Steven changed some major things on the team (they aren’t willing to go on the record yet, which is what this note to the three here is about).

Here’s a list of structural changes to the Windows team at Microsoft I’ve heard about:

1. The teams now are flatter. There are far fewer levels between developers who build the product and you (er, Sinofsky).
2. You’ve moved all the developers onto a single floor. You’ve also done that for program managers and testers.
3. You’ve asked for, and gotten, teams to stay silent in public about coming features.

These three changes are, I hear, bringing huge changes in terms of team morale and getting stuff shipped faster and in better quality.

Here’s what I’m hearing:

1. Developers no longer need to “escalate” up problems four or more levels. That’s because they usually are only two or three levels away from you. This provides a few major benefits. First, more things are worked out lower down. No one wants to be called into your office to decide on things. Second, even when an escalation is needed things get settled out much faster. One guy told me about a time when he was eight levels away from Jim Allchin. He told me that devs aren’t more than four levels away now.
2. Moving all the devs onto a single floor has changed Microsoft’s culture. It used to be that the “program manager, tester, dev” team structure was very important, today, thanks to email and other communication systems it’s less important. Now I’m hearing that devs are sharing information among themselves, which is making things move faster and keeping morale higher.
3. I’m hearing that the reason that things haven’t leaked about Windows 7 yet (Microsoft used to leak like the Titanic) is that team members feel much better about the management lately and are less likely to play political games. I remember hearing about political games where teams would leak details about what they are working on to provide some public pressure to ensure their stuff would get included in Windows in the past. Even if that’s not true, it’s interesting that the leaks have stopped.

So, why is this a story pitch?

Well, it goes back to my “how do I want to work with PR?” rant a couple weeks back — I’m trying to innovate my relationship with PR teams, and thought it might be fun to try doing this in public instead of doing the usual thing and trying to find a cool story angle and begging for access in private. There are upsides to that approach (other journalists don’t get wind of a cool story) but I’ve always liked doing things in public. Fewer misunderstandings and, also, my readers get to see what’s going on so my reporting both gets better and also has fewer conflicts of interest in it.

To those from other companies, Twitter me if you’d like me to take this approach with you, too. :-)

This is a story that I think needs much more research than talking to a few devs over beer.

I don’t have enough sources, and don’t have anyone willing to go on the record with attribution yet. So, that’s why I need your help to really understand if these changes are correct (I might have them wrong since I only have a handful or two of sources who are helping me get ready for the PDC and are telling me about some of these changes).

I would love to spend a few months researching this story and would love to write up an article for Fast Company Magazine (or have a journalist come along with me to write that up) as well as get my video cameras a look into how Windows 7 is being built and how these management changes are totally improving how employees on the Windows team are seeing their roles.

Some other parts of the story that I’d like to cover:

1. I’m hearing that there’s some very cool stuff that will be shown at the Professional Developer’s Conference (Microsoft’s big developer conference) and that, unlike when Longhorn was shown off, that this stuff will actually be based on shipping code — so the chances that we’ll get shown something cool, then have it pulled from the product later because it couldn’t be built are non-existent. I’d love to have a look at the new stuff before the PDC so that I could have a video ready to run at the PDC about the new technologies that are coming.
2. It’s clear that Apple has had a deep effect on the Windows 7 team. I’d like to interview team members and executives about the discussions you’ve had internally about Apple (we’ve seen some emails here and there leak out from execs) and discover how you’re going to compete (and market against) Apple.
3. Since I work for FastCompany magazine, I’d like to understand the changes on the team, how it made (or didn’t make) you more agile and how the changes delivered (or didn’t deliver) value to customers. Translation: how is Microsoft using these changes to be “fast” again (something I didn’t think would happen so soon, truth be told). I’d love to have interviews with you and other team members about key learnings and what could be passed along as “best practices” for the entire tech industry.

I can hear some objections.

1. You might not be ready to let an outside journalist into meet with team members because that would increase the chances that stuff would leak before you’re ready to have it leak. Well, that is a chance, yes, but I plan on being around the industry for a while and would rather be invited back to cover other versions of Windows and other things Microsoft is going to do in the future. I promise I won’t even do a “this made me cry” blog post, like I did with the WorldWide Telescope when I saw that early.
2. You might think I am not a good fit for such a story. That’s a risk I’ll have to take in going public in this way (cause now I’ve tipped everyone off to what will probably be one of the most important business stories of 2009/2010). If you don’t think I’m good, there are lots of journalists who cover the tech industry who would love the chance to study the Windows team in detail and understand these changes. I can think of tons of names of journalists who would love to cover this story. Some of whom include (not a complete list): David Kirkpatrick at Fortune. Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet. Michael Arrington at TechCrunch. Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read/Write Web. Chris Anderson at Wired. Dan Farber at CBSi. Or, Fast Company’s own Ellen McGirt, who does a lot of the cover stories there. And, let’s not forget Microsoft’s own Channel 9 team. In fact, it’d be fun to do a joint project with them since I expect that an internal team would get a LOT more access than anyone from the outside would.
3. You might want to hold such a story because of the chances that it would hype up the world too early, too soon, or would reveal some new technologies before you’re ready to evolve that. That’s true, but this story needs to be reported on over the next 12 months to really understand the changes and build up a good database of stories to edit into a piece, either for the magazine or for online video. That’s why a joint project might be good, along with an embargoed blogger/journalist you trust.
4. You might not want the world to see how the sausage is made, especially if it is giving you a competitive advantage. Apple’s secrecy, for instance, does more than just build hype for its products: it keeps you from really studying their teams and management decisions to look for best practices. That’s a risk you’ll have to take and maybe that’s also something that Microsoft might like to donate to the industry anyway just to be a good leader and to give business students a new thing to study. It’s not everyday that someone gets to reorganize a team of such size and scale.

My plea to you is to let someone into study these changes over a long range of time (I’d love to come up and hang out with the Windows 7 team a half dozen times over the next year, if I was given a chance) because these changes are simply too important to not let the world study them. If you don’t like me for the job, invite one of the other journalists in so that this knowledge isn’t lost — I’m sure it has impacts to other business leaders who are managing large teams and who are trying to remake their companies to be more agile and ship higher quality products. Imagine if General Motors or Procter and Gamble wanted to study the changes you’ve made and what impact they had. How would they if you don’t let a journalist in to document what you’re trying to do.

Anyway, keep up the great blogging, it’s fun to get looks into what you’re trying to do, and either way I’ll see you at the Professional Developer Conference in late October.

72 thoughts on “Story Pitch: Microsoft’s “flattened” Windows 7 team and what it means for business

  1. Brandon,

    One correction – I’m mostly talking about Windows from a COSD (Core Operating System Division) perspective rather than WEX.

    It is here where I think Sinofsky is most out of his element and we’re it hurts most losing culture. Office doesn’t have the large core that Windows has and you can build the products almost completely independent from each other. Windows has a huge kernel that takes time to change and every change has a ripple effect through the rest of the O/S.

    One big complaint I have is that with Sinofsky’s new milestone approach it makes it all but impossible to innovate anything in the kernel. You can to a point slap pretty new UI on the existing stuff, but if you want to make a real difference in the Core O/S (like significantly overhauling the way SCM works so we can improve boot time), you can’t. Ever.

    You don’t have time to get your fundamentals right and build on it in the same release, and you are also not officially allowed to target the next O/S release or even an out-of-band release. So how can you ever change anything??

    In reality some long-term investments is still being done, but in secret from upper management, with funding hidden in another shipping project. People get away with this, but the fact that we are effectively forced to do in order to have any long term vision doesn’t fill me with confidence in management.

    Oh also, the reason that we shipped virtually no Ultimate Extra’s is because of Sinofsky’s strong aversion to out-of-band releases. Boy, do the market love us for that one!

  2. Brandon,

    One correction – I’m mostly talking about Windows from a COSD (Core Operating System Division) perspective rather than WEX.

    It is here where I think Sinofsky is most out of his element and we’re it hurts most losing culture. Office doesn’t have the large core that Windows has and you can build the products almost completely independent from each other. Windows has a huge kernel that takes time to change and every change has a ripple effect through the rest of the O/S.

    One big complaint I have is that with Sinofsky’s new milestone approach it makes it all but impossible to innovate anything in the kernel. You can to a point slap pretty new UI on the existing stuff, but if you want to make a real difference in the Core O/S (like significantly overhauling the way SCM works so we can improve boot time), you can’t. Ever.

    You don’t have time to get your fundamentals right and build on it in the same release, and you are also not officially allowed to target the next O/S release or even an out-of-band release. So how can you ever change anything??

    In reality some long-term investments is still being done, but in secret from upper management, with funding hidden in another shipping project. People get away with this, but the fact that we are effectively forced to do in order to have any long term vision doesn’t fill me with confidence in management.

    Oh also, the reason that we shipped virtually no Ultimate Extra’s is because of Sinofsky’s strong aversion to out-of-band releases. Boy, do the market love us for that one!

  3. Rather doubt MS would willing to do this again. They’ve already done an “inside the dev team book–Showstopper. Sure, things have progressed a lot since then, but the basics still hold true. Add to that there is “Dreaming in Code”. Although not MS, it’s the same genre. So, this story type of story has become a bit hackneyed. Having a blogger do it would make it even less interesting.

    As for being some type of business school case study? MS management has never been known as being innovative. And based on your description, there’s nothing all that interesting here. Big companies do management re-orgs all the time. Yawn.

  4. Rather doubt MS would willing to do this again. They’ve already done an “inside the dev team book–Showstopper. Sure, things have progressed a lot since then, but the basics still hold true. Add to that there is “Dreaming in Code”. Although not MS, it’s the same genre. So, this story type of story has become a bit hackneyed. Having a blogger do it would make it even less interesting.

    As for being some type of business school case study? MS management has never been known as being innovative. And based on your description, there’s nothing all that interesting here. Big companies do management re-orgs all the time. Yawn.

  5. Have you seen the book “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace” by Mary Walton? (http://www.amazon.com/Car-American-Workplace-Mary-Walton/dp/0393040801) Ford allowed her to embed with the Taurus development team to document the process of creating the 1996 Taurus. She wrote about the good and bad, but she was ultimately shunned by Ford, because she wrote about too much bad stuff. The potential downside of letting a reporter see the guts of a development team is too great to offset the potential upside.

  6. Have you seen the book “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace” by Mary Walton? (http://www.amazon.com/Car-American-Workplace-Mary-Walton/dp/0393040801) Ford allowed her to embed with the Taurus development team to document the process of creating the 1996 Taurus. She wrote about the good and bad, but she was ultimately shunned by Ford, because she wrote about too much bad stuff. The potential downside of letting a reporter see the guts of a development team is too great to offset the potential upside.

  7. The real question is whether it will be a worth waiting OS. Since after Vista anything will be a better one…
    Lets hope this is a step in the right direction.Anyone knows when it is out ?

    Thanks

  8. The real question is whether it will be a worth waiting OS. Since after Vista anything will be a better one…
    Lets hope this is a step in the right direction.Anyone knows when it is out ?

    Thanks

  9. Why does everyone always care about new features – just something to write about.

    I work for a few thousand end users. They don’t ask for new features – they want it to:

    Boot faster
    shut down faster
    open apps faster
    copy files faster

    Most of my clients who use both mac and PC aren’t dazzled by mac’s gui – they are impressed with how much faster it boots and opens apps.

    They don’t need to buy new processors, more memory or “boost” drives – it just does what it is supposed to – work in the background so you can run apps quickly and browse quickly. Is this some secret someone is keeping from MS?

    My clients never said – gee I wish I had transparent borders – that would make me much more productive. The companies I support never said – if only things were more rounded and easier to use for people that never used computers before and more frustrating for people who alread know how to do things on computers – we would like to spend money on an OS that does that.

  10. Why does everyone always care about new features – just something to write about.

    I work for a few thousand end users. They don’t ask for new features – they want it to:

    Boot faster
    shut down faster
    open apps faster
    copy files faster

    Most of my clients who use both mac and PC aren’t dazzled by mac’s gui – they are impressed with how much faster it boots and opens apps.

    They don’t need to buy new processors, more memory or “boost” drives – it just does what it is supposed to – work in the background so you can run apps quickly and browse quickly. Is this some secret someone is keeping from MS?

    My clients never said – gee I wish I had transparent borders – that would make me much more productive. The companies I support never said – if only things were more rounded and easier to use for people that never used computers before and more frustrating for people who alread know how to do things on computers – we would like to spend money on an OS that does that.

  11. Great idea for an article or series of FastCompany articles. Personally, focusing on the secrecy aspects of the Win7 marketing plan is most interesting to me. A “How Microsoft Kept Feature XYZ Secret” would be a must read for me. I think an article like this would need to be researched extemporaneously like you propose. It wouldn’t be the same to just interview people about what they thought happened in the past. You want to be there in real time to hear about stories of people concerned that something’s been leaked or the feature isn’t going to make it or to cover the excitement about the pending release.

  12. Great idea for an article or series of FastCompany articles. Personally, focusing on the secrecy aspects of the Win7 marketing plan is most interesting to me. A “How Microsoft Kept Feature XYZ Secret” would be a must read for me. I think an article like this would need to be researched extemporaneously like you propose. It wouldn’t be the same to just interview people about what they thought happened in the past. You want to be there in real time to hear about stories of people concerned that something’s been leaked or the feature isn’t going to make it or to cover the excitement about the pending release.

  13. Borlock -

    I’m a dev on the Windows Find & Organize team. I came from outside of Windows around the time Sinofsky took over. Previously I’d been in a very small, very agile group that rode the border between Windows Live and Windows.

    It took some time to get used to things in Windows, and to a differently structured org. I still think there are some advantages to the PUM model or at least to organizing offices based on feature teams, some of which you touched on.

    At the beginning of the Win7 project (my first Windows project) I was uncertain about a lot of things. A lot of people who got re-orged into windows didn’t like it and complained a lot then eventually left. A lot of people who had been in Windows left because they felt like the “culture” of Windows was going away.

    And you know what I say? Good riddance. Frankly, I think the culture and leadership responsible for Vista was in need of a kick in the pants. After the re-org it took some time for me to find my place and get comfortable in Windows and with basically an entirely new team of people. But in the last year or so I’ve become a very big fan of Sinofsky and the WEX leadership, and the management of my own team.

    One reason I say I’m a big fan is because of how excited I’ve become, not just about my own work, but about the entire product. I don’t think the project would be anywhere near what it is today if we were stuck with the culture or leadership of the last release.

    // Just my opinion
    // But if Scoble’s post is to believed it sounds like there are others
    // And no, I’m not one of his “sources” :)

  14. Borlock -

    I’m a dev on the Windows Find & Organize team. I came from outside of Windows around the time Sinofsky took over. Previously I’d been in a very small, very agile group that rode the border between Windows Live and Windows.

    It took some time to get used to things in Windows, and to a differently structured org. I still think there are some advantages to the PUM model or at least to organizing offices based on feature teams, some of which you touched on.

    At the beginning of the Win7 project (my first Windows project) I was uncertain about a lot of things. A lot of people who got re-orged into windows didn’t like it and complained a lot then eventually left. A lot of people who had been in Windows left because they felt like the “culture” of Windows was going away.

    And you know what I say? Good riddance. Frankly, I think the culture and leadership responsible for Vista was in need of a kick in the pants. After the re-org it took some time for me to find my place and get comfortable in Windows and with basically an entirely new team of people. But in the last year or so I’ve become a very big fan of Sinofsky and the WEX leadership, and the management of my own team.

    One reason I say I’m a big fan is because of how excited I’ve become, not just about my own work, but about the entire product. I don’t think the project would be anywhere near what it is today if we were stuck with the culture or leadership of the last release.

    // Just my opinion
    // But if Scoble’s post is to believed it sounds like there are others
    // And no, I’m not one of his “sources” :)

  15. @scobleizer
    Your comment regarding “using the OS less and less” is totally correct.

    The OS is becoming less and less relevant as the browser becomes more important.

    Interestingly, I now know a number of people who have also ditched MS Office; not for Open Office etc – But for tools like Google Docs etc.

    Great post and some excellent comments.

    @TheTecNewsBlog

  16. @scobleizer
    Your comment regarding “using the OS less and less” is totally correct.

    The OS is becoming less and less relevant as the browser becomes more important.

    Interestingly, I now know a number of people who have also ditched MS Office; not for Open Office etc – But for tools like Google Docs etc.

    Great post and some excellent comments.

    @TheTecNewsBlog

  17. I think this will be a great story for use in business schools as well. Gone are the days of discussing cases written from one or two pre-defined angles much after the decisions are taken or products launched. What we need is a more compelling, in-depth look at the challenges faced by the team as they develop Windows7 to regain some of the lost luster after Vista. Using multiple media (audio, video, text and graphics), the story can come alive more powerfully than otherwise. By tracking it over time (but perhaps not releasing sensitive information), you may be able to let the readers (and students) keep abreast of the developments. We need more compelling, in-depth understanding of how companies launch critical new products and Windows7 is clearly one that is pivotal for Microsoft. Good Luck. Cheers.. Look forward to tracking how this story unfolds not only in Fast Company but in the blogs. Cheers.

  18. I think this will be a great story for use in business schools as well. Gone are the days of discussing cases written from one or two pre-defined angles much after the decisions are taken or products launched. What we need is a more compelling, in-depth look at the challenges faced by the team as they develop Windows7 to regain some of the lost luster after Vista. Using multiple media (audio, video, text and graphics), the story can come alive more powerfully than otherwise. By tracking it over time (but perhaps not releasing sensitive information), you may be able to let the readers (and students) keep abreast of the developments. We need more compelling, in-depth understanding of how companies launch critical new products and Windows7 is clearly one that is pivotal for Microsoft. Good Luck. Cheers.. Look forward to tracking how this story unfolds not only in Fast Company but in the blogs. Cheers.

  19. Borlock: well, this might be a good other reason not to let me have time to really see what’s going on behind the scenes too. Thanks for letting me know.

    Personally I wonder what could be done to improve the product anyway. I’m finding I’m using the OS less and less and the browser more and more. The things I wish Vista did was startup from sleep faster. Seriously, that’s my one real wish. Yeah, sometimes it’s a bit hard to figure out where you are in the file tree. Sometimes it’s hard to find the control panel you need. But those are little nits and only bug me once in a while. Start up off of sleep bugs me every day several times a day.

  20. Borlock: well, this might be a good other reason not to let me have time to really see what’s going on behind the scenes too. Thanks for letting me know.

    Personally I wonder what could be done to improve the product anyway. I’m finding I’m using the OS less and less and the browser more and more. The things I wish Vista did was startup from sleep faster. Seriously, that’s my one real wish. Yeah, sometimes it’s a bit hard to figure out where you are in the file tree. Sometimes it’s hard to find the control panel you need. But those are little nits and only bug me once in a while. Start up off of sleep bugs me every day several times a day.

  21. Full disclosure – I’m an ex-Windows dev who now work in another group in MSFT.

    I totally disagree with this statement: “the reason that things haven’t leaked … is that team members feel much better about the management”. I know maybe 100 or so people in various groups on Win7. I can tell you that I’ve not met a single person since Sinofsky took over who has told me that they feel “good amount management”.

    Instead I’ve heard from several people: “Sinofsky comes from Office. He really doesn’t get Windows or the culture behind it. He’s been put in this position in order to preserve the product rather than improve it. The reason nobody talks about Win7, is cause there is nothing to say.”. And then they leave the org (which frankly, makes internal recruiting a lot easier for me.)

    On the flat org thing: What happened in the past is that Windows was built from small, dynamic orgs that come together under a PUM in groups of 20 to 50 people. And you really didn’t care what happened above you (yes there were many levels, but doesn’t matter – you had your own team and goal). Now the individual, independent teams are effectively removed and instead there are massive silos of dev orgs / test orgs and PM orgs reporting up to a VP.

    The effect of this is the following: In the Windows XP days, I was in my testers’ offices maybe for half the day – the testers was an intricate part of the team and we always understood what each other were doing.

    In Vista, the PUMs were removed and the testers were now on a different team. So I saw them maybe once a day for a few minutes and the rest of the time they were doing their own thing. (Guess what happened when developers and testers don’t talk? Quality suffered, and it showed.)

    In Win7, with even more management removed (and thus less individualized teams), meeting with testers became a weekly thing. I didn’t even know some of my testers, and I certainly have no clue what they were doing. (They certainly weren’t finding bugs – all of our bugs came from partners or customers).

    The only reason that Win7 will have any hope of success is because by the time it releases, the market (especially driver writers) will have caught up to Vista, and Win7 is going to be no change from Vista.

  22. Full disclosure – I’m an ex-Windows dev who now work in another group in MSFT.

    I totally disagree with this statement: “the reason that things haven’t leaked … is that team members feel much better about the management”. I know maybe 100 or so people in various groups on Win7. I can tell you that I’ve not met a single person since Sinofsky took over who has told me that they feel “good amount management”.

    Instead I’ve heard from several people: “Sinofsky comes from Office. He really doesn’t get Windows or the culture behind it. He’s been put in this position in order to preserve the product rather than improve it. The reason nobody talks about Win7, is cause there is nothing to say.”. And then they leave the org (which frankly, makes internal recruiting a lot easier for me.)

    On the flat org thing: What happened in the past is that Windows was built from small, dynamic orgs that come together under a PUM in groups of 20 to 50 people. And you really didn’t care what happened above you (yes there were many levels, but doesn’t matter – you had your own team and goal). Now the individual, independent teams are effectively removed and instead there are massive silos of dev orgs / test orgs and PM orgs reporting up to a VP.

    The effect of this is the following: In the Windows XP days, I was in my testers’ offices maybe for half the day – the testers was an intricate part of the team and we always understood what each other were doing.

    In Vista, the PUMs were removed and the testers were now on a different team. So I saw them maybe once a day for a few minutes and the rest of the time they were doing their own thing. (Guess what happened when developers and testers don’t talk? Quality suffered, and it showed.)

    In Win7, with even more management removed (and thus less individualized teams), meeting with testers became a weekly thing. I didn’t even know some of my testers, and I certainly have no clue what they were doing. (They certainly weren’t finding bugs – all of our bugs came from partners or customers).

    The only reason that Win7 will have any hope of success is because by the time it releases, the market (especially driver writers) will have caught up to Vista, and Win7 is going to be no change from Vista.

  23. skc: I have more than 1,000 interviews so you can see what kind of stuff I do. There are a lot of journalists out there who aren’t clueless about tech. You might look into it and/or upgrade your reading lists. I’m writing this from a Windows Vista computer, by the way, which I was also using at the Gnomedex conference so you can ask around.

  24. skc: I have more than 1,000 interviews so you can see what kind of stuff I do. There are a lot of journalists out there who aren’t clueless about tech. You might look into it and/or upgrade your reading lists. I’m writing this from a Windows Vista computer, by the way, which I was also using at the Gnomedex conference so you can ask around.

  25. Hi Robert,

    Being a media student and a keen observer of emerging media processes and its dynamics with corporations, your is an interesting social experiment, which demands a lot of collaborative insights and broad minded approach towards fact finding in open media space.

    Look forward t how it develops!

    Hemant M,
    India

  26. Hi Robert,

    Being a media student and a keen observer of emerging media processes and its dynamics with corporations, your is an interesting social experiment, which demands a lot of collaborative insights and broad minded approach towards fact finding in open media space.

    Look forward t how it develops!

    Hemant M,
    India

  27. Tech journalists just want in so they can be the first to tear down whatever it is MS is doing. Tech journalists are pretty much clueless about technology in general and are heavily biased towards Cupertino. I would hope Sinofsky and co stick to simply blogging about their work so we can make up our own minds.

  28. Tech journalists just want in so they can be the first to tear down whatever it is MS is doing. Tech journalists are pretty much clueless about technology in general and are heavily biased towards Cupertino. I would hope Sinofsky and co stick to simply blogging about their work so we can make up our own minds.

  29. John: incomplete transparency is often more harmful than no transparency. With Longhorn we weren’t completely transparent. The whole thing started falling apart and we weren’t able to tell that story and reset expectations.

    Personally, for the Windows team I think being closed up is a much better way to go. Expectations don’t go out of whack and you can make a “big release” to a waiting set of press and bloggers. Apple has that down to a science.

    The problem with Microsoft’s model is that they rely on outsiders (er, OEMs) so they’ll never be able to be as quiet as Apple is. You need to share quite a bit with OEMs to get them to write drivers and make hardware, etc. It’s often the OEMs that leak stuff as well.

  30. John: incomplete transparency is often more harmful than no transparency. With Longhorn we weren’t completely transparent. The whole thing started falling apart and we weren’t able to tell that story and reset expectations.

    Personally, for the Windows team I think being closed up is a much better way to go. Expectations don’t go out of whack and you can make a “big release” to a waiting set of press and bloggers. Apple has that down to a science.

    The problem with Microsoft’s model is that they rely on outsiders (er, OEMs) so they’ll never be able to be as quiet as Apple is. You need to share quite a bit with OEMs to get them to write drivers and make hardware, etc. It’s often the OEMs that leak stuff as well.

  31. I’m glad this time around MS is keeping a bit closed on the feature set. It’s a good management of expectations. That said, I’m surprised no one has asked you how you feel about this in terms of your push, while at MS, for transparency. Interested in what you think about that aspect.

  32. I’m glad this time around MS is keeping a bit closed on the feature set. It’s a good management of expectations. That said, I’m surprised no one has asked you how you feel about this in terms of your push, while at MS, for transparency. Interested in what you think about that aspect.

  33. Wow – I’m sure this is only a small amount of the changes being made with the Windows 7 team, but it still makes me incredibly excited about the potential the OS has. It seems like Microsoft is learning from past mistakes and hopefully this will translate to better products. As much as I love my Mac and OS X, I would love to see equally great operating system from Microsoft.

    Anyone have a link to the emails mentioned that were sent by execs about discussions regarding Apple?

  34. Wow – I’m sure this is only a small amount of the changes being made with the Windows 7 team, but it still makes me incredibly excited about the potential the OS has. It seems like Microsoft is learning from past mistakes and hopefully this will translate to better products. As much as I love my Mac and OS X, I would love to see equally great operating system from Microsoft.

    Anyone have a link to the emails mentioned that were sent by execs about discussions regarding Apple?

  35. After Vista anything will be a better OS… the real question is whether it will be a good operating system. Time will tell. I’m a big Linux fan but still press home the compatibility of Microsoft Products… not because they work well with other systems but rather that everyone has Windows (in one format or another). Lets hope this is a step in the right direction. I’m keenly watching this one!

  36. After Vista anything will be a better OS… the real question is whether it will be a good operating system. Time will tell. I’m a big Linux fan but still press home the compatibility of Microsoft Products… not because they work well with other systems but rather that everyone has Windows (in one format or another). Lets hope this is a step in the right direction. I’m keenly watching this one!

  37. Robert,

    This was a great idea / article. You put all your cards on on the table and were even selfless in the process. Awesome!! This should be spread around the journalism world. I hope you get inside and are able to cover Windows 7.

    Pete
    http://WinningMan.com

  38. I’d actually like Microsoft to keep quiet about Windows 7 for a bit longer. Even with all your assurances that things shown at the PDC will actually ship, it’s a lot more fun to surprise people with something great.

  39. Robert,

    This was a great idea / article. You put all your cards on on the table and were even selfless in the process. Awesome!! This should be spread around the journalism world. I hope you get inside and are able to cover Windows 7.

    Pete
    http://WinningMan.com

  40. I’d actually like Microsoft to keep quiet about Windows 7 for a bit longer. Even with all your assurances that things shown at the PDC will actually ship, it’s a lot more fun to surprise people with something great.

  41. Robert,
    I have to say, I cannot believe that Microsoft were not working based on a flatter management structure. For a company with the resources MS have, it’s always seemed amazing to me that they often neglect to use some REALLY basic business processes.

    I use PC’s, Mac’s and a Linux box (because I write about this stuff.) In view of the tiny share of the overall computer market that Apple has, I’m confused as to why what Apple are doing would have (literally) any impact at all on what Microsoft do with Windows 7 (or anything else.)

    I would like to be educated on this if someone can tell me.

    Great post Robert.

    Jim
    TheTechNewsBlog.Com

  42. Robert,
    I have to say, I cannot believe that Microsoft were not working based on a flatter management structure. For a company with the resources MS have, it’s always seemed amazing to me that they often neglect to use some REALLY basic business processes.

    I use PC’s, Mac’s and a Linux box (because I write about this stuff.) In view of the tiny share of the overall computer market that Apple has, I’m confused as to why what Apple are doing would have (literally) any impact at all on what Microsoft do with Windows 7 (or anything else.)

    I would like to be educated on this if someone can tell me.

    Great post Robert.

    Jim
    TheTechNewsBlog.Com

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