Q&A: Microsoft Announces Leadership Transition in Windows Server Division

Bill Laing, General Manager, Windows Server Division

REDMOND, Wash., March 9, 2006 – The wind of change is blowing through the Microsoft Windows Server Division. It’s all part of the leadership reorganization Microsoft announced last September as part of a larger realignment of the company into three new divisions.

The Windows Server Division now falls under one of those three divisions – the Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division, which comprises Windows Client, Server and Tools, and MSN. A corresponding transition has taken place at the helm of the Windows Server Division. Last October, Microsoft announced former division leader Bob Muglia’s promotion to senior vice president of the Server and Tools Business (STB) – also part of the Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division. Recently, Microsoft named Muglia’s successor, Scotland native Bill Laing.

To find out what’s next for the Windows Server Division, PressPass spoke with Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Server & Tools Business, who has led the division since 2003, and Bill Laing, a seven-year veteran of the division and now its general manager.

PressPass: How does the reorganization at Microsoft impact the Windows Server Division?

Muglia: The top priorities of the division remain the same. The mission of the Microsoft Platform Products & Services Division includes driving customer value through continued innovation in the software platform, which aligns with our work in the Windows Server Division.

PressPass: How do you see the current priorities of the Windows Server Division?

Bob Muglia, Senior Vice President, Server & Tools Business

Muglia: We are in the middle of a major release cycle with the next version of Windows Server, codenamed “Longhorn.” Shipping that in 2007 and Windows Vista later this year will remain the top priorities for Bill, his team and every group that contributes to Windows. The division will also continue its commitment to fulfilling the promises we have made to our customers about how we are going to meet their needs. And we’re also committed to making Windows Server even more secure, manageable, responsive and interoperable with our customers’ existing IT environments. I know Bill will do an outstanding job of continuing the great work in these areas. He has been deeply engaged in Windows Server for many years and has demonstrated solid technical leadership and deep commitment to our customers and partners.

PressPass: Bill, what was your role at Microsoft before you became general manager?

Laing: After joining Microsoft in 1999, I was an architect in the Windows Server Division focusing on enterprise-class scalability and availability of the Windows platform. Later on, I became director of the Architect and Datacenter group within the Windows division, reporting to Bob.

PressPass: What are your responsibilities in your new role?

Laing: I oversee delivery of all Windows Server products, including Windows Server “Longhorn” – the next version of Windows Server. My primary focus is to deliver an integrated server and the relevant Windows Server SKU’s – Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter. The core server team that I run takes input from our customers, internal and external partners, and OEMs. We then integrate all the different pieces of Windows Server, we determine the content of the release and we coordinate the beta cycle, the customer feedback and the final release.

I am also responsible for the Common Engineering Criteria for the Windows Server System; manage the development of Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, the technical teams that engage with server original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the central User Assistance teams.

Delivery of an integrated server is my highest priority because that’s what drives innovation in new releases.

PressPass: Can you elaborate on what you mean by “deliver an integrated server?”

Laing: Building a complete operating system (OS) requires integration of software from many different divisions within Microsoft – from other parts of the Server and Tools Business, the core OS team, the networking team, the client teams, and even the Microsoft Business Division – but we drive the integration of the overall project. We also work with internal and external partners to ensure the OS meets their requirements and ensure they’re ready to ship when the release is available. My organization also includes a technology adoption program for customers that enables us to get initial feedback on releases as it they are being built. Customer and partner feedback is at the heart of our development process.

PressPass: Any more examples of how customer feedback is incorporated into new releases?

Laing: I have a team called the Customer Partner Team, which consists of a small number of very senior people who work with major customers around the world; although most of them are either here in or in New York. They typically work with leading-edge customers, such as major financial services. I recently spent time with one who was rolling out Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition in the top financial institutions in and New York. This close collaboration with customers helps us better understand what their deployment experience is like after we’ve shipped a product. It is extremely important to get the customers’ feedback and integrate it into the planning process.

Our vision is to ensure consistency and integration across all Microsoft server products. We add value for our customers by making sure they know we’re taking into consideration their whole end-to-end experience with Microsoft as one solution, not just about individual products delivered by Microsoft. This is where the Common Engineering Criteria comes in.

PressPass: Please briefly describe the Common Engineering Criteria?

Laing: The Common Engineering Criteria is a set of guidelines that each product in the Windows Server System must meet. It’s a way for us to show we’re keeping the promise we’ve made to our customers that our server products – such as SQL Server, Exchange Server and Windows Server – will be consistent and will work better together. This is about a commitment to our customers that they can expect consistency from our products – for example, the languages they’re localized into, whether they’re supported in a virtual machine, whether they offer 64-bit support, or the fast data backup and restore infrastructure, or a consistent feedback mechanism from customers to Microsoft, and so on.

PressPass: How are you involved with Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, and is this the only product you have development responsibility for?

Laing: I’ve been thinking about Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 for about six years and I am incredibly excited about it now coming to the market. It will bring the power of high-performance computing to the personal and workgroup level, and will enable a new class of customers to exploit the technology of cluster computing.

Some of the other teams that report into me also develop parts of the server and work directly with customers and partners to gather feedback, which shapes the release. For instance, we have a tool called SQM [pronounced “skwim”], or Service Quality Monitor, which enables us to get online customer feedback as part of the release.

PressPass: Can you elaborate on your role over the technical teams that engage with hardware manufacturers?

Laing: We have both technical and business reviews ongoing with each of the major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). One of the things we do is maintain a scorecard on how we’re doing in working with our partners. For example, the scorecard might look at collaboration on a specific feature in a partner’s hardware roadmap, such as a new device they’re bringing out or a new chip they’re adopting. We use this to measure our common success.

PressPass: What are your top priorities as general manager?

Laing: As Bob mentioned, Microsoft’s most immediate priority is shipping Windows Vista, the upcoming version of the Windows client currently in beta, later this year. This is important because part of what we do in Windows Server contributes to Windows Vista. The other top priority this year is to get our internal and external deployments of Windows Server “Longhorn” beta out to get customer and partner feedback and then ship the product next year.

I also have an ongoing commitment to deliver on the customer commitments Bob mentioned for the future development of Windows Server. These are areas where we can make a fundamental difference over the next five to 10 years in customers’ infrastructure, in the partner ecosystem and in the applications that are built on Windows Server. The other commitments closely align with what customers tell us they need: an end-to-end connected systems platform, universal distributed storage, secure-anywhere access and self-managing dynamic systems.

PressPass: Given the timing of this leadership change, is there a risk that shipment of Windows Server “Longhorn” will be impacted?

Laing: Not at all. I’m committed to making sure the division delivers on its promise to bring innovation and new value to customers in a timely manner. This commitment goes beyond me personally, as there is a rock-solid commitment companywide to remain fully focused on delivering against the strong and innovative product pipeline we’ve currently got in place.  Windows Server “Longhorn” is on track for general availability in 2007, and we are excited about the opportunities it will bring to customers and our partners.

PressPass: How do you feel about the overall performance of the division?

Laing: Since I’ve been with the company, we’ve established a predictable server OS delivery schedule, including shipment of a server in 2000, a server in 2003 and an update in 2005 with Windows Server 2003 R2 – which became generally available in early February. In creating this rhythm to our release cycle, I think we’ve succeeded in delivering continual value in a predictable manner to our customers. The Windows Server 2003 R2 release was our first example of delivering real customer value between major releases.

The performance really speaks for itself as Windows Server has significantly contributed to the Server and Tools Business double-digit year-over-year revenue growth.

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