Microsoft has been heavily promoting it's new .Net initiative. Bill Gates
and Steve Balmer have both declared it to be the future of Microsoft, and
in recent developer conferences, Microsoft told developers they
must quickly restructure their products around .Net. Many developers were
distressed (developers don't like having to re-do all their programs from the
ground up), but they were firmly told it is not an option.
Paul Maritz, head of the combined platform and development tools division, was totally responsible for making .Net succeed. Now he has resigned without prior notice. The industry, having little enough confidence in .Net to start with, is going to interpret this as a vote of "no confidence", and so is Wall Street, judging by Microsoft's stock performance after the announcement.
Paul Maritz was one of the few "old guard" top executives who have not already left the company. The platform and development tools departments are now being managed separately, each by a lower level executive.
Microsoft is still quite unclear about what .Net is, how it will be implemented, and when it will be substantially complete. They are saying "two to three years", which, translated from Microsofteese to English, is "5 years to never".
What we are told is that .Net will involve moving all Microsoft software to running from Internet servers as ASP (Application Service Provider) services, and that software will be a service (paid for by the month) rather than a product (bought in a box). Our take on .Net can be found (with links to press articles) in this editorial.
InfoWorld columnist Tom Yager, on the other hand, knows exactly what .Net is and says to expect it to burst upon the world fully formed in just a couple of months. Gee, Microsoft should hire this guy (or possibly already has, if you catch my drift).
.Net provides a considerable challenge to Microsoft, as their products were all designed and developed as huge, monolithic, single user programs. They don't even work well on a network, never mind loading as component services over an Internet connection. The tools to restructure them to do this aren't even developed yet. Another problem: others, notably Hewlett Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems, are years ahead in developing similar services.
It sort of looks like Paul Maritz figured the possibility of success, figured he would be held fully responsible, and figured he'd bail while he still had a parachute.
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