Allchin: moving out

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 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.

New phase for Peregrine HP to buy Peregrine for $425 million. That HP is building out its IT Service Management toolset is unsurprising; most of the company’s ITIL strength is in service delivery with availability and capacity monitoring, while its core service desk capabilities are weak or nonexistent. That’s a problem in this market, where the service desk is increasingly becoming a process center of excellence for IT Service Management and is an important part of any ITSM offering.

But that they would acquire Peregrine? Word on the street was that Peregrine was coming out of its near-death experience after its 2002 accounting scandals. But the company has still essentially lost much of its former market leadership. HP has gone into a lot of deals with Peregrine, so they must be pretty comfortable with their technology. The deal price is about 2.2 times annual earnings, so while not a bargain, it’s not a rip-off either. And the deal puts HP eyeball to eyeball with BMC, who purchased the other market leader, Remedy, from Peregrine three years ago. What a weird market.

Disclosure: My firm, iETSolutions, is another major player in this market, and my comments don’t reflect the opinions of the firm.