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Allchin memo: 'The place to be'

Windows chief tells staff "my intensity will not abate" in the coming months as he heads toward retirement.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced a major reorganization, streamlining itself into three new divisions. It also gave notice that Windows chief Jim Allchin would be retiring on the launch of Windows Vista toward the end of 2006. Allchin shared some thoughts on his experiences in a memo to the company's Platform Products Group.

By now you should have seen the mail from Kevinjo (Kevin Johnson, who with Allchin will be co-president of the new Platform Products and Services division) and me to the new organization. I wanted to take a moment and send a note to the "old" platforms team to share some of my private thoughts about this change. I apologize in advance for so much email today.

When I first met Bill (Gates, Microsoft's chairman) he told me that no matter how good the software I built was, I would never be able to touch as many people as I would if I came to work at Microsoft. It was true then and it is even more true now. This is the place to be.

Today, we have the opportunity to not only reinvent the way software is developed but also to greatly improve the richness of the experience our customers have with our software. As someone who has spent most of his life working in computer science, I truly believe we are just at the beginning of the software revolution.

After Windows Vista is in the hands of customers, however, it will be the right time for me to shift my attention to other priorities. About 2 1/2 years ago a medical event in my life caused me to take a step back and evaluate all my priorities. I am fine now, but I made a decision then to retire at the end of 2006.

Make no mistake about it. I love this company. And I love the progress we are making. Windows Vista will be awesome. We're getting good feedback on Beta 1 and the PDC (Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference) was a great success that you can all be proud of -- these are exciting times. We are making solid progress with our Mobile business and we are going like gangbusters on the Server and Tools front with stunning new products coming from all the product teams including Windows Server, SQL, Exchange, BizTalk and Visual Studio.

We've learned some hard lessons over the last few years and my hope is that we will use those lessons wisely. My dream is for a much more agile, quality driven engineering organization with fewer roadblocks and more open highway to speed on. I also have a dream about fewer bad dependencies, better layering, and choosing when we do integration at the right time in the product cycle -- avoiding doing it too early. The result will be better code and more innovation, sooner for customers. I see these dreams across all products. We have made good progress on these dreams over the last 12-18 months or so. And I plan on devoting even more of my time to ensure that we continue making these dreams a reality.

I want to say farewell to MED/CS (Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices/Communications Sector). I am optimistic that the foundation for quality that was laid over the last 2 years will reap substantial rewards in the marketplace as this team transitions to Robbie Bach and the new Entertainment and Devices Division. MED/CS will continue to have a close working relationship with the rest of the Platform Products and Services Division.

Again, I want to thank Ericr (Eric Rudder) for his contributions as the leader of the Server and Tools organization.

While my personal decision was deeply difficult, it was made easier because of the confidence I have in all of you and the caliber of talent across the company. This is perhaps the most exciting time in our industry as we finally have the critical mass of technology and tools available to realize many of our dreams for customers. At the same time, though, competition is as strong as ever and it will require each of you to constantly rise up to excel to win. If you want to make a difference and you see something that can be improved, then don't talk -- improve it. I am always ready to listen and I know Kevin is also.

I know this announcement today may come as a surprise to some of you. Please put it in the right perspective though ? it's the right way to plan for succession. I'm not going away for quite some time. My intensity will not abate. My commitment to excellence is as strong as ever. I believe in Microsoft and I believe in you. This is not a retirement announcement mail. It is planning for the future in the responsible way. There is so much work to do. One day (a long time from now) there will be retirement mail, but THIS IS NOT IT.

Now ...let's ship, ship, ship!