What if Microsoft had picked a different Chief Software Architect?

Ray Ozzie may not have been Microsoft's first or only choice to fill the big Microsoft Chief Software Architect shoes left vacant by Bill Gates.

Microsoft has been orchestrating carefully for the past few years the transition of Bill Gates from Chief Software Architect (CSA) and regular participant in product planning meetings, to "mere" Chairman. (Gates' actual "last day" is June 30.)

But it turns out Microsoft may have been planning this transition far earlier than anyone knew. And Ray Ozzie may not have been the company's first or only choice to fill the big Microsoft CSA shoes.

eWEEK's Darryl Taft blogged on May 27 that Gates approached now-IBM-fellow Grady Booch two years before Microsoft bought Ozzie's company, Groove Networks, and hired Ozzie to be CSA. The idea is far from far-fetched: Gates has been a big backer of the importance of software modeling, one of Booch's specialties. And Microsoft considered buying enterprise-team tool vendor Rational -- a move that IBM ended up making, instead. (Currently, Booch is Chief Scientist for Software Development in IBM Research.)

If Gates & Co. had ended up snagging Booch, however, I wonder whether Microsoft's priorities might be considerably different than they are with Ozzie in the CSA role. Might Microsoft be more business-focused than consumer-focused? Might Microsoft's Oslo initiative and its forthcoming D programming language be far more visible and high priority? No doubt, Microsoft would still be transitioning from a software-only to a Software+Services vendor, whether Booch or Ozzie was at the CSA helm. But maybe Microsoft might have stuck more to its enterprise knitting and gone off on fewer consumer-based chases with Booch in the driver's seat.

What's your take? Would Microsoft be on a different technology course if Booch had ended up as Redmond's CSA?