A sign that Microsoft is becoming the world's biggest law firm

Microsoft seems to be losing its way as it focuses product announcements on intellectual property.

There was some distressing news buried in Sean Michael Kerner's look into Novell's and Microsoft's virtualization partnership. The news, however, had nothing to do with virtualization, and everything to do with Microsoft job titles.

This was a product announcement, yet Microsoft resorted to its legal department for quotations??? (Novell, of course, offered up a "senior product marketing manager." It has yet to become a licensing company, and is still focused on thriving as a software company.)

The two Microsoft employees quoted have bizarro job titles:

  • Monty O'Kelley, technical director of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft
  • Brent Phillips, senior product manager for intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft

Every big company has a healthy-sized legal department. Microsoft? Well, if it's passing out job titles like this, I'm guessing it has run out of titles like "product marketing manager" and "developer" and is instead doing weird mash-ups between its engineering teams and legal.

When you have someone whose job it is to come up with "intellectual property and licensing products," you've lost your way. Most software companies focus on selling (gasp!) software. Not, apparently, Microsoft.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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