Four years ago, Microsoft assembled a team, many with killer Windows pedigrees, to build Microsoft's public-cloud operating system, Windows Azure (codenamed "Red Dog.") On the all-star roster were folks like Dave Cutler, the father of Windows NT, and Hoi Vo, an expert in hypervisor development, among others.
A while back I got a tip that Cutler wasn't doing a whole lot on the Azure front any more, since the core platform was basically "done." He was still at Microsoft, and currently reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. But word was he had moved onto new challenges.
Earlier this month, one of my tipsters filled in a related piece of this puzzle. Vo quietly had moved from the Azure team, where he was Director of the OS/hypervisor, to the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) side of the company. Yes, Vo's LinkedIn bio doesn't mention his new job, but according to my tipster he is now working in ISS Console Development research and development.
(ISS is the Interactive Entertainment Business Software and Services group headed by Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Treadwell. The group's charter is to develop and deliver "connected entertainment experiences for consumers.")
(I asked Microsoft officials for comment on Vo's move and was told "Microsoft doesn’t discuss internal movement to this degree." I also emailed Vo and received no answer back.)
So what about Cutler? He's earned the right to do basically whatever he wants at Microsoft. And word is that "whatever" has something to do with the future of Xbox.
I asked Microsoft for comment and got this statement from a spokesperson:
"Dave is one of our brightest minds and is currently working on projects that will help advance our goals in the consumer space as we continue to grow the Xbox from a game-centric console to a complete home entertainment device."
The spokesperson declined to provide any further details or say when Cutler left the Azure team. (I'm thinking it happened some time after March 2011, when his last boss, Amitabh Srivasta, left Microsoft.)
One of my contacts said to think about Cutler's new role as focusing on moving Xbox beyond a gaming platform. Does that simply mean he'll be helping Microsoft do what it's already on the path to do: To make Xbox more and more of a TV and/or settop-box replacement? Or is it something bigger, like helping Xbox also become a home videoconferencing/telepresence hub -- or maybe even a whole home-automation system? (Remember, Microsoft has a HomeOS research project exploring these kinds of scenarios.)
One thing to remember is the current Xbox operating system is loosely built on NT, and Cutler knows a thing or two about that operating system...
Any guesses (educated or otherwise) as to what Cutler is doing specifically in the Xbox space?