Transcript: Microsoft’s Bill Veghte Discusses New Role with Company and Insight into the New Organization

BILL VEGHTE: So, why am I at Microsoft? You know, it’s a funny story. Seventeen and a half years ago, I had a freshly-minted degree in Asian studies from Harvard, and I got on the Mass Turnpike, and the Mass Turnpike turned into I-90, and I-90 runs out to the Pacific Ocean.

Well, it was a little more carefully planned than that, which is I was in search of adventure, I loved the concept of the Northwest, and I fell in love with this group of people that was at a company that back then it was a couple thousand people doing something that I didn’t really understand, but, boy, were they excited and they were great people.

Experience

When I look back and I think about sort of the things that drove me and the things that define my career here, it’s a couple of different things. One is making sure you’re clear what the North Star is. The North Star is the customer. If you lose track of the customer, ultimately you’re going to get very confused in your business.

The second thing is it’s about great people working on stuff that matters and that’s impactful. We have a great group of people here, and I’ve had the privilege of working on a set of things that really have had broad impact in the marketplace, from Windows 95 to the work that we did in competing with Linux, to working on our North American business.

The last is not being afraid to challenge convention, being unafraid to change, being unafraid to say, this is your aspiration; no, our aspiration should be up here, and we have to think differently about the business and the approach.

You come onto a product like Windows and you underestimate what it is, what it represents. It’s an amazing brand. It’s a brand that has incredibly high awareness and respect from its customers. It is an experience that customers say, look, it’s the thing that makes my computer work, and the computer is an essential tool for them on an everyday basis.

Scale: You just sort of every time you talk about Windows you’ve got to add a couple zeros. It’s a product that a billion PCs run every single day, and that people rely on. It is probably the most commonly spoken language in the world.

Vision and Priorities

There’s clear opportunity to deliver an end-to-end experience to customers, and that’s what they want. They want that seamless experience between Web and PC. But they don’t want to give up on a best of breed experience on the Web or on the PC.

Leadership

People are so important to my job satisfaction and to the success of any business, people and leaders.

And I want to actually, before we jump into all the new people that I’m really excited about and what their roles are, I want to also say thank you, because we get into the frenzy of go, go, go into the new, I want to say thank you to Mike Sievert for his leadership and his stewardship of the Windows business over the last couple of years. Certainly the successes that we’ve had he gets a lot of credit for.

He made a personal decision a couple of weeks ago that it was the right time for him to retire from Microsoft. I know there was a bunch of rumbling and rumors, was he pushed out or whatever. No, he wasn’t. I’m saddened by his decision, but we have a great bench of leaders that are super good. Some of them have been at Microsoft for a long time, some of them are relatively new. Folks like Mike Nash, Brian Hall, Brad Goldberg, great, great people that have critical roles, whether it be running Windows product management, our search or our Windows Live business; or Brad Brooks, who was recently promoted to corporate vice president for our consumer Windows and Windows Live marketing efforts.

Opportunity

So, what gets me out of bed in the morning? Well, the reality is what gets me out of bed in the morning is I’ve got two young boys that are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed first thing in the morning.

But that isn’t what you were really asking me. What you were asking me is, what gets me excited about this opportunity, and a couple things get me excited about this opportunity. First, it really matters. If we can pull this off, if we can bring the best of the Web and the best of the PC together in the experiences we deliver and how we go to market, we’ve delivered something of incredible value to customers, and in turn, to shareholders.

The second reason is — and it’s something I feed off of — is the skepticism, and that skepticism and that challenge is something that I get excited about.

And last, it is a challenge, it is hard. This is not something that’s going to be a walk down Primrose Path.

It matters, there’s skepticism, and it’s hard.

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Bill Veghte: Tech•Ed 2009

A transcript of remarks by Bill Veghte, senior vice president for Windows business, speaking at Tech•Ed, Los Angeles, Calif., May 11, 2009