My goodness, Robert X. Cringely isn't pulling any punches, is he?
Actually, I see an alternate reality. I think all the cute little Microsoft shenanigans that we've admired over the years are about to return at hurricane strength. In this scenario, Bill is stepping aside so that his recently acquired halo (courtesy of the spousal inspired Gates foundation) won't be spattered with brown flecks as Microsoft returns to its street fighting roots.
Cringely is correct that it can't be fun being Mr. Microsoft right now. Spending five years and $5 billion dollars in pursuit of the Holy Grail (shipping Vista) has to be the kind of thing that makes Bill grind his teeth at night. But really, is "honest, original work devoid of politics, backstabbing, and lies" going to turn that sow's ears into a pretty purse? I don't think so: the history of software has overwhelmingly shown that large team efforts almost always produce crapola. There are exceptions, of course, but generally small, lean and mean is the way to success in software.
Gates may also have seen the ghost of Christmas future showing him a quickly hacked and universally disdained Vista as the laughing stock of the industry. The more he can disassociate himself from that embarrassment, the better. Chief Software Architect of Vista may come to be a title no one wants to claim.
It's long been good advice to leave on a high note. In other words, step aside while the rose petals are still fluttering downward and the adoring crowds are still applauding. Surely Bill can't think that this is that moment in time, can he? Earth to Bill: the petals have been ground into the dirt and the crowd is muttering under its breath - this is NOT your shining moment of triumph.
Well, we'll see if Cringely is right that Bill will be moving his office soon. If Ballmer follows Bill out the door, then Cringely may have nailed it. If not, maybe I did.
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