Update: Microsoft had its annual management shakeup--these things tend to happen at the end of the fiscal year--and Kevin Johnson is leaving as head of the company's platform and services division. As a result, Johnson's unit is split into two--Windows and online services--and CEO Steve Ballmer becomes the primary advocate for Windows.
The upshot: Ballmer will be the face of Windows and be accountable for its success or failure. Without Johnson, the guy who spearheaded the Yahoo takeover attempt, the Windows middleman is removed.
- According to the Wall Street Journal Johnson is going to lead Juniper Networks. As Om Malik notes Juniper is going to be interesting to watch. Update: This news is official. Juniper announced that Johnson is the new CEO. Scott Kriens will remain chairman (statement).
- Mary Jo Foley says it's odd that Microsoft will have no Windows intermediary. Three vice presidents--Steven Sinofsky, Jon DeVaan and Bill Veghte--will run Windows/Windows Live and report to Ballmer. Ballmer will be the one with ultimate accountability for Windows and will make sure his three-headed management team works.
- Ballmer in a memo outlined the company's challenges--Microsoft needs to be more Apple-ish and accept no Windows compromises, become a search leader and maintain its enterprise leadership. Ballmer's Windows quote says it all:
The success of Windows is our number one job. With SP1 and the work we've done with PC manufacturers and our software ecosystem, we've addressed device and application compatibility issues in Windows Vista. Now it's time to tell our story. In the weeks ahead, we'll launch a campaign to address any lingering doubts our customers may have about Windows Vista. And later this year, you'll see a more comprehensive effort to redefine the meaning and value of Windows for our customers.
It will be Ballmer's job to tell that Windows story. And ultimately Ballmer will be the guy who gets the glory and blame for future versions of Windows.