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Guthrie's Gone

So Mary Jo Foley was right. Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Platform, is gone. He'll be heading up the newly created Azure Application Platform team at Microsoft, reporting to Ted Kummert, senior vice president of the Business Platform Division.

Microsoft hasn't said much yet, but the memo that Mary Jo Foley obtained makes it clear that Guthrie will be asked to bring his developer relations mojo to an Azure platform looking for some spark.

Wrote Developer Division Senior Vice President S. "Soma" Somasegar in the memo: "Given the strategic importance of Cloud Computing for STB and Microsoft, we need a strong leader to help drive the development of our Cloud Application Platform and help us win developers for Azure."

A statement from a Microsoft spokesperson in response to my inquiries about the move yielded this tidbit: "Cloud computing is strategically very important for STB and Microsoft. We needed a passionate leader for bringing developers to the Windows Azure platform."

There's more than a little dog-whistle PR going on here. The use of the words strategic, leader and developers is far from accidental.

On the one hand, I don't like this move. Scott Guthrie has been a phenomenal creative force for Microsoft over the years, driving vast improvements in the developer tooling and infrastructure even as he has emerged as a powerful advocate for developer interests. His work with open source software and providers in the Developer Division pre-dated Microsoft's change of heart on the issue by years. As a result, Guthrie has emerged as a true star in the .NET development community. There is no way the Developer Division won't miss Guthrie's leadership.

On the other hand, I expect big things out of the new Azure Application Platform group over the next few years. Guthrie wasn't brought in to make the donuts. As Mary Jo Foley noted to me earlier today, some intriguing teams will fall under Guthrie's purview, including the Web Platform and Tools team and the Application Server Group. "[It] makes me wonder what kinds of new tools and dev stuff they have cooking," she wrote in an email exchange.

That's an important point. If Guthrie can spin the same kind of magic he did at DevDiv over the years, Microsoft could build a strategic (there's that word again) competitive advantage in the cloud space. So while I might not like what Microsoft is doing here, I sure agree with how they plan to go about it. I can see no better way to build an absolute groundswell of Azure support than to set Scott Guthrie loose on the developers who will build and leverage Azure applications and infrastructure.

What will the new Developer Division org chart look like? Details are scarce, but the internal memo notes that the Client Platform team led by Kevin Gallo will report directly Guthrie's former boss, Somasegar. The .NET Core Platform team will now report to Jason Zander, corporate vice president of the Visual Studio Team in the Developer Division. I hope to get a clearer picture on how the movement will impact the DevDiv soon.

What do you think of Microsoft's decision to move Guthrie from his pivotal position in the Developer Division to lead the new Azure Application Platform team?

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/02/2011

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