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June 16, 2006

Architect of Word weighs in on Gates

Posted by Kristi Heim at 11:29 AM

Charles Simonyi, one of the first and most influential developers at Microsoft, said he thought Bill Gates' move was the right one.

"One of Bill's unique traits is his discipline, the ability to make hard decisions at the right time. It tends to catch people by surprise but he has done them before and he will make them in the future," Simonyi said in an e-mail.

"He has been working very hard with his foundation before and even harder with Microsoft. When he turns this the other way both organizations will be still greatly advanced."

Simonyi, now chief executive of Intentional Software in Bellevue, is considered the pioneer of two of Microsoft's biggest selling products: Word and Excel. He also worked closely with Gates as one of the company's top researchers.

I looked up an interview with Simonyi around the 20th anniversary of Windows. What a difference between the Redmond behemoth now and two decades ago when Simonyi first joined Microsoft, a company of a few hundred people located next to Burgermaster. Here's what he said about the difficulty Microsoft had in working with IBM back then:

"IBM was a large organization that wasn't equipped to operate in a nimble and efficient way. There was this tremendous bureaucratic organization where trivial decisions took an infinite amount of paperwork. That's expensive. Plus, it makes it very difficult to reverse decisions. The more people invest in decisions, the more they cling to them. All you need is for people to cling to a couple of bad decisions and you're dead."

Today those sound like words of wisdom for Ozzie.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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Angel Gonzalez
Angel Gonzalez
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Kristi Heim
Kristi Heim
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Benjamin J. Romano
Benjamin J. Romano
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Mark Watanabe
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