Last week, the world's largest software maker tapped Steven Sinofsky, a veteran executive from its Office business software segment,only days after Microsoft delayed the consumer launch of the much-anticipated upgrade to its mainstay operating system.
Sinofsky comes to the Windows group, which has not shipped a new product in nearly five years, with a reputation within Microsoft as an effective taskmaster and a track record of on-time new software releases delivered in regular intervals.
Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division who oversees the Office team, sees a larger impact from Sinofsky's appointment and his managerial skills will create an efficient organization with the ability to develop new leaders and deploy resources.
"Those will be great cultural enhancements," Raikes told Reuters in a telephone interview from Convergence 2006, Microsoft's conference for its Business Solutions unit. "I'm very confident that this is the best move for our company."
Sinofsky replaces long-time Windows guru Jim Allchin, who announced last year that he planned to retire once Vista was complete.
The Windows and Office group, the company's two largest businesses, have vastly different cultures. The Office team is known for being more disciplined while the Windows unit allows more freedom to its engineers, Microsoft watchers say.
The delay of Windows Vista had a spillover effect onto the launch of Office 2007, the next version of its software package that includes the Word processor, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
Microsoft pushed back the consumer launch of Office to January 2007 to coincide with the delayed release of the new Windows.
Raikes said Microsoft will have the new Office software in the hands of its main business license customers by October, meeting its earlier second-half 2006 target.
"Our launch schedule for the business side is still the same and that's the significant majority of Office revenue," said Raikes. "We did not change the Office 2007 development schedule at all."