As long as I’m shooting my mouth off about the industry: will anyone miss Jim Allchin? The news that he’s retiring next year draws a major chapter in Microsoft’s history to a close. Allchin presided over both high and low points in Windows’s history, including Vista (f.k.a. Longhorn), which can’t decide if it wants to be the coolest thing since sliced bread or the most troubled Windows since version 3.0.
Allchin is known to be a ferocious competitor, and questions about his tactics, including the infamous Burst.com email deletion flap, have surfaced throughout his tenure. The insistence on tying Internet Explorer to Windows and “leveraging” the Windows monopoly into control of the Internet comes to mind as a less civilized moment, as does his admission in Congressional testimony that release of Windows source code would endanger national security due to flaws in the code.
Paradoxically enough, that’s one thing I will miss about Allchin: his willingness to speak up. In an industry where there are too many press release mouthers, his calling open source software an “intellectual property destroyer” was entertaining, if not as entertaining as Steve Ballmer calling it a cancer.
I only ever was in one meeting with Jim Allchin, and all I can say about him is that he was very intelligent and very hard on his people when their ideas weren’t crisply defined and clearly thought out.