A New Cattle-Driver for Longhorn

Head ’em up and move ’em out. Microsoft’s Longhorn team has a new trail boss.

Michael Sievert, a former AT&T Wireless executive, was named Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Windows product management on Tuesday. Job number one will be to get Microsoft’s long-awaited Longhorn product out the door and on the road.

Longhorn, the code name for Microsoft’s next version of Windows, is due in 2006, with a beta release expected mid-2005. Sievert will draw on his experience in his previous positions as executive vice president and chief marketing officer for AT&T Wireless and, before that, as executive vice president and chief global marketing and sales officer at E*Trade Financial to shepherd the new release.

“Microsoft’s current corporate culture may foster innovative product development, but engineers aren’t necessarily the best marketing people,” Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox wrote in his Microsoft Monitor blog. “I’m glad to see executive management has recognized a longstanding problem and brought in a marketing heavyweight.” Jupiter Research and internetnews.com are owned by Jupitermedia.

Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates previewed his vision for an advanced, built-from-scratch version of Windows in October 2003. But since then, the company had to divert resources to plugging security holes.

Microsoft executives recently admitted that the company was cutting features from Longhorn. Sievert will have the task of explaining to customers why they should upgrade once again.

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