September 20, 2005 3:38 PM PDT

Allchin legacy seen in Windows

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Jim Allchin, to some Microsoft's biggest senior geek after Bill Gates, is retiring at the end of 2006. His legacy: Windows on almost every desktop.

The 53-year-old Allchin joined Microsoft in 1990, initially working on the company's networking product strategy. He came from Banyan Systems, where he had been the architect of the now-defunct Vines network operating system. At Microsoft, Allchin's main achievement was in leading the development of the Windows operating system.

"When it comes to Windows, the buck stops at Jim," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch. "Allchin has been the guiding father of Windows for many years and had a tremendous responsibility for charting the flagship product for Microsoft."

Jim Allchin

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that Allchin plans to retire at the end of next year, after it ships Windows Vista, the successor to Windows XP. Until then, Allchin will head Microsoft's new Platform Products and Services division alongside his successor, former sales chief Kevin Johnson, Microsoft said.

But while Johnson has been a star at Microsoft, rising through the sales and marketing ranks, he is not really a replacement for Allchin, said Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

"Johnson will occupy the box that Allchin occupied, but he is not a dweeb. He is a very capable manager but not the company's senior technical architect," Helm said. "It was striking to me that Microsoft did not name anyone, really, to replace Allchin. There is a job he did that is currently vacant."

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Microsoft's makeover
Windows chief Jim Allchin gets set to retire as a reorg gets under way.

After Bill Gates, Allchin is Microsoft's "most senior geek," Helm said. "He succeeded beyond everyone's wildest dreams, basically putting Novell on the margins of IT with Windows NT," he said. "Microsoft moved from a follower to a leader in the networking area on his watch."

Allchin's departure will be a loss on many levels, said Israel Hernandez, an analyst at Lehman Brothers. "He's had a long history with Microsoft," Hernandez said. "He's gone through practically every major product release with them and was one of their chief architects. He was a key lieutenant under Ballmer and Gates."

Look back
Allchin is also known for his strong belief in Windows as the jewel in Microsoft's crown, even during the emergence of the Internet in the mid-1990s. It was Allchin who pressed for the integration of Windows and the Internet Explorer Web browser, while others inside the company argued for a faster and more complete embracing of the Net.

In early 1997, Allchin sent Gates an e-mail titled "Losing a Franchise--The Microsoft Windows Story (a new Harvard case study)," according to the book "Breaking Windows," by author David Bank. Allchin wrote that he was troubled by plans to release IE for other operating systems as well as for Windows. "I consider this cross-platform idea a disease within Microsoft. We are determined to put a gun to our head and pull the trigger." Gates agreed and began to steer the company back towards Allchin's view.

The integration of IE into Windows caused a senior-level shake-up at Microsoft, including the departure of Brad Silverberg, who had headed development of the Web browser.

The episode is an example of the power Allchin has inside Microsoft, said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Enderle Group. "He was one of the powers in the company. After Gates and Ballmer, he was an easy third--very powerful and very well-liked by most people," Enderle said.

Ultimately, the bundling of IE with Windows led to a landmark antitrust case against Microsoft. Still, Allchin's legacy has to be that Windows today runs on the vast majority of personal computers, Gartenberg of JupiterResearch said.

In his years at Microsoft, Allchin has become known to be open about the company's mistakes. He avoids travel and spends most of his time in meetings, but prefers "think days" in his lab. Typically Allchin works 12-hour days--from 7.30 am until 7.30 pm--at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters. His focus is on quality even made it hard for Microsoft to recruit him: "It took a year for me to actually agree to come here, because I did not think the quality was appropriate, and I did not think much of DOS, did not think much of Windows and OS2 was a complete blowout," Allchin said in a recent interview on Microsoft's Channel 9 Web site.

After making sure that Vista hits store shelves, Allchin will likely begin spending his time with his family and his other love: music. He is an avid guitar player and has even shared some of his work on Channel 9, part of Microsoft's online community for developers. Before making it big in software, Allchin was a starving musician eating Cheerios without milk after his food stamps ran out, he told Channel 9 in an interview.

In an e-mail sent Tuesday, Allchin reminded Microsoft employees that he isn't going away yet. "This is not a retirement announcement e-mail," he wrote. "My intensity will not abate. My commitment to excellence is as strong as ever."

He decided to retire at the end of 2006 after an unspecified medical event led him to evaluate his priorities, according to the e-mail.

"Now...lets's ship, ship, ship!" he closed the message, referring to the delivery of Windows Vista.

CNET News.com's Scott Ard contributed to this report.

6 comments

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Allchin legacy seen in Windows
Another part of Allchin's legacy is his outrageous performance before Judge Jackson during the anti-trust trial where he presented video taped 'evidence' purporting to show the degradation of Windows without IE. It still amazes me that a person could knowingly present blatantly falsified testimony before a federal judge and not go to prison. Allchin should thank his lucky stars that he didn't end up doing time in a federal prison.
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Allchin legacy seen in Windows
Another part of Allchin's legacy is his outrageous performance before Judge Jackson during the anti-trust trial where he presented video taped 'evidence' purporting to show the degradation of Windows without IE. It still amazes me that a person could knowingly present blatantly falsified testimony before a federal judge and not go to prison. Allchin should thank his lucky stars that he didn't end up doing time in a federal prison.
Posted by (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I always wondered who to thank for IE 4.0 borking Windows 95A B
It was about 1997 that the email from Jim Allchin showed up on
Bill Gates desk, and thereabout IE 4.0 was rendering upgrades to
Windows 95A & B poorly or worse, most were reformatted. It was
the beginning of the second forced upgrade to windows 98, as it
had IE 4.0 in the shell natively.

Jims help in the decision to cut off other OS support in IE, and to
further sink the browser into the Windows OS is the lagacy
(lagacy-thats a new word) of Jim Allchin.

So now you know who else to thank for the brilliant idea of
mashing the browser into the OS, clogging the internet arteries
with bots, and further serving ads and traffic we dont need.


it would have been nice for someone to get the early bright idea,
that....Gee, we are hooking up to the whole unknown world, I bet
we ought to check it out carefully?

Nope, now they have opened pandoras box, they musta said
shoot first ask questions later.........

Humm,?! Sounds better than Vista, Windows Pandora.

Thanks

Jim
Posted by (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I always wondered who to thank for IE 4.0 borking Windows 95A B
It was about 1997 that the email from Jim Allchin showed up on
Bill Gates desk, and thereabout IE 4.0 was rendering upgrades to
Windows 95A & B poorly or worse, most were reformatted. It was
the beginning of the second forced upgrade to windows 98, as it
had IE 4.0 in the shell natively.

Jims help in the decision to cut off other OS support in IE, and to
further sink the browser into the Windows OS is the lagacy
(lagacy-thats a new word) of Jim Allchin.

So now you know who else to thank for the brilliant idea of
mashing the browser into the OS, clogging the internet arteries
with bots, and further serving ads and traffic we dont need.


it would have been nice for someone to get the early bright idea,
that....Gee, we are hooking up to the whole unknown world, I bet
we ought to check it out carefully?

Nope, now they have opened pandoras box, they musta said
shoot first ask questions later.........

Humm,?! Sounds better than Vista, Windows Pandora.

Thanks

Jim
Posted by (39 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too bad that MS didn't see the disaster coming...
... It seems that Allchin's impact on MS is just beginning to
surface. Perhaps he was the short sighted flake who used
Windows as a marketing tool instead of an OS. Whatever, he was
on duty when MS dug itself into the OS hole it now commands.
Firing Allchin (façade = retirement) won't solve the problems,
they are here to stay until MS does a total rewrite of their OS to
eliminate the Windows 'heritage'. It's very long overdue; the band
aide thickness is becoming far too noticeable. And it would be
refreshing to see MS do something original.

In the meantime, XP is as far as I go. Vista will be ignored. And
when XP no longer can carry the load, any upgrade will be to a
non-MS product.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too bad that MS didn't see the disaster coming...
... It seems that Allchin's impact on MS is just beginning to
surface. Perhaps he was the short sighted flake who used
Windows as a marketing tool instead of an OS. Whatever, he was
on duty when MS dug itself into the OS hole it now commands.
Firing Allchin (façade = retirement) won't solve the problems,
they are here to stay until MS does a total rewrite of their OS to
eliminate the Windows 'heritage'. It's very long overdue; the band
aide thickness is becoming far too noticeable. And it would be
refreshing to see MS do something original.

In the meantime, XP is as far as I go. Vista will be ignored. And
when XP no longer can carry the load, any upgrade will be to a
non-MS product.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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