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Microsoft Developer Division Loses Another Chief

So, Jason Zander is following Scott Guthrie over to Azure. Zander, formerly Corporate Vice President of the Visual Studio engineering team, is moving from DevDiv to partner up with the cool new kid on the block, Windows Azure (as the estimable Mary Jo Foley reports).

Foley received an emailed statement from Microsoft, laying out the changes. It read, in part:

"With Visual Studio 2012 and .NET 4.5 now available and as we begin to work on future versions of Visual Studio and offerings, this is the right time to make organizational changes ... As part of the recent STB (Server and Tools Business) organizational changes, Jason Zander effectively began his transition to a new role leading the Windows Azure development team."

Is this a blow to Microsoft's Developer Division? Two heavyweights on the Visual Studio team leaving within 16 months of each other, for the same new home? The reality is that it remains to be seen what effect this will have on Visual Studio, the product, going forward.

If Zander was going to leave, this was certainly the time to do it. Visual Studio 2012 and the .NET Framework 4.5 were officially launched last week. Those products are the first to really address the move to mobile and Windows 8 which, to use the over-used term, is truly a bet-the-company strategy for Microsoft. No one wants to leave in the middle of the iteration.

And Corporate Vice President S. Somasegar, who still heads DevDiv, is quite capable. More and more lately, he's become the public face of the division, and his enthusiasm and love for development, and the developer community, comes across in interviews.

But Zander, and before him Guthrie, were equally brilliant and creative. Azure's come a long way already, in Guthrie's short tenure. He and Zander are good at understanding what their customers want and need. It's hard to replace that kind of firepower.

I don't see this as any kind of sign, however, that DevDiv's starting to get short shrift from Redmond. If anything, developers have never been more important, and Visual Studio's never been more important. The platform ecosystem has never been broader, and Microsoft's welcoming the open-source community more warmly than any time in its past. Smartphones and tablets give developers opportunities undreamt-of even a decade ago, and software innovation is peaking. Microsoft is desperate, as it should be, to get developers working on Windows 8.

At the same time, the cloud is growing fast, too. And Microsoft's presence is as iffy there as it is in mobile. Azure needs to succeed for Microsoft; adding talent like Jason Zander and Scott Guthrie gives it the best chance to do that. Visual Studio's rolling along like a tank, while Azure's still in its toddler years -- at best. Now it has even more guidance.

Posted by Keith Ward on 09/18/2012 at 1:15 PM

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Oct 9, 2012

I like the new UI. I can focus more on writing maintainable code and less on how pretty my color schemes look - Dark Matter Developer

Wed, Sep 26, 2012

"developers have never been more important, and Visual Studio's never been more important" -- I fully agree, but then you take one look at the VS2012 UI and you scratch your head. It's horrible, just a train wreck. The UI is all gray, the icons lack detail, are flat and also gray, the menu bar is UPPER CASE, the title bar and envt does not respect Windows theme settings. It's just a train wreck and complete suckage. Now what has MSFT done about it? They release a theme editor that allows you to set the colors more granulary, their is a registry change you can make to turn of the UPPER CASE menus, but the icons still stink which is a huge part of the problem especially in the solution explorer. So now over at codeplex there's a project which modifies the icons in VS2012 to use the VS2010 icons. So the dev community hates the UI. What is MSFT thinking??

Tue, Sep 18, 2012 Alex Landau

Is there any chart showing how cloud contenders are performing? Some say that MS is doing well and battling competitors. Some say that Amazon is actually leading the race. Most seem to give signs that Google, once expected to be the king of the web, wouldn't be performing as outstandingly. What's the truth about the cloud?

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