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Whither Scott Guthrie?

I suffered a rude surprise when I came across this blog item from All About Microsoft blogger (and Redmond magazine columnist) Mary Joe Foley. She says that Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Platform at Microsoft, may be moving to the Windows Azure team as part of a larger May 1 reorg in Redmond.

Of course, Guthrie needs no introduction among Visual Studio Magazine readers. The man's fingerprints are on virtually every surface of the .NET development stack. He has been instrumental in the success of the .NET Framework development platform, pushing a courageously open and pragmatic strategy of developer interaction that has made his group one of the leading lights in Redmond.

And now Scott Guthrie may (and I stress, may) be heading off to work on Windows Azure.

This would be great news for Microsoft's cloud business. The move has a bit of a Sinofsky Effect about it. Steven Sinofsky was nailing it as head of the strategically important Office business for Microsoft, but Redmond decided it needed its best general to tend to the struggling Windows client franchise after the drawn out debacle with Windows Vista. The result was Windows 7.

I'm confident Guthrie would do a great job running the Azure business, in large part because he would quickly energize the partner community around the platform. Guthrie at Dev Div has made .NET development enormously attractive and compelling for developers with a lot of choices available to them, and he's done it by marshalling both his own resources and those of the broader dev community. By the same measure, I expect Guthrie (provided he has full reign to do so) would be able to forge a more coherent and palatable message around Azure, and to drive the feedback loop to enable Azure to separate from cloud competitors.

But I cant help but wonder what such a move would mean to the .NET development community. Guthrie isn't just a capable and effective manager, he's something of a visionary. While high profile stars like Ray Ozzie floundered in their efforts to articulate and promote a vision of what Microsoft would bring to the community, Guthrie delivered. He spearheaded the movement into open source solutions, and enabled levels of interoperability and openness that were leagues ahead of other Microsoft units.

We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves here. This may be a rumor and nothing more. And Guthrie may spend the next 10 years driving the .NET development stack at Microsoft. But if such a move is in the offing, it will be very interesting to see how the Developer Division evolves and the role it takes going forward.

What's your take on this rumor? And how important do you believe Guthrie to be to the success of .NET and the Developer Division at Microsoft? Email me at [email protected] or leave your comments in the space below.

Posted by Michael Desmond on 04/27/2011

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