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MS dilettante research head ousted in Ballmer purge

Does this herald a clear-out of Microsoft management?

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Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's CTO and head of Research, has been booted out of Microsoft on sabbatical, of indeterminate length, according to a report in Time magazine dated 7 June. The report says that President Steve Ballmer was behind the move, which resulted from his spending more than half his time out of the office pursuing his hobbies of palaeontology, gourmet cooking, and car racing. We have commented in December (Story) on the under-achievement of Microsoft's research department, but it's taken nearly six months for Ballmer to catch up on his Register reading, it seems. Cameron Myhrvold is Nathan's brother, and was a controversial witness in the trial. We shouldn't feel too sorry for Nathan however, and there's no need to take up a collection, because he cashed in $160 million of Microsoft shares last November, and probably has more stashed away. What this does mean is that Ballmer is prepared to be a bully boy inside Microsoft as well as outside. Nevertheless, it will prove increasingly difficult for Ballmer to motivate senior Microsoft executives who do not need to work. Those that do carry on are likely to become burnt out, not from innovation of course, but from covering their tracks and journeying to secret "drops" to leave messages, rather than using email or telephones, lest electronic surveillance catches them out again. ®

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