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Microsoft drafts .NET chief to lead Azure cloud war

Can red polo shirted strongman woo developers?

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.NET fan favorite Scott Guthrie has been elevated in a Microsoft reorg intended to "sharpen its focus" and win greater support among developers for the company's push into the cloud.

.NET developer platform corporate vice president Guthrie has been chosen to drive development of the Windows Azure Application Platform, and to help win developers to Microsoft's answer to clouds from Amazon, Google, and OpenStack.

S. Somasegar, developer division senior vice president, is reported to have said in a memo to employees seen by ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley that the company needs a "strong leader to help drive the development of our Cloud Application Platform and help us win developers for Azure."

Guthrie lately led Microsoft's Silverlight browser-based media player, which was supposed to be Microsoft's answer to Flash, but which was instead demoted last year when Microsoft embraced HTML5.

Before that, however, Guthrie was instrumental in building and delivering .NET, one of Microsoft's biggest-ever architectural changes, introducing C# and the CLI in 2000 – which are today taken for granted. He has helped lead the design and build work of Visual Studio and the .NET Framework since 1999.

Guthrie is popular among Microsoft devs at events and online, famed as much for his geeky charm and red polo shirts as for his deep technology expertise.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Reg about Guthrie's move: "We needed a passionate leader for bringing developers to the Windows Azure platform. Scott has been increasingly responsible for areas that are of great importance to Azure, and his technical expertise and passion are key to helping Azure take the next step in these areas."

The spokesperson said the move doesn't indicate a change to Silverlight's development, and that the company remains committed to Silverlight for web and mobile.

Guthrie now reports to senior vice president of the server and tools group's business platform division Ted Kummert, having earlier reported to Somasegar.

In other changes, Microsoft has combined developer tools marketing with developer platform evangelism. Also, the general manager of Microsoft's High Performance Computing group Kyril Faenov has been assigned to the role of attracting more startups and "rapidly growing workloads" to the cloud.

All changes take effect in June – once current "milestones" have been completed – and ahead of what Somasegar called "exciting and important deliverables in the next 6-12 months."

Somasegar didn't provide details about what deliverables he was referring to, but so far we are expecting Silverlight 5 in September along with an Internet Explorer 10 beta and a beta of Windows 8. These are all looking likely for a Microsoft developer conference that the company has assiduously avoided naming, but is expected to be its annual Professional Developers' Conference (PDC). ®

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