Where in the world is J Allard?


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Since Microsoft acknowledged officially a couple of weeks ago that the powers-that-be there decided to nix the Courier Tablet, the question I’ve gotten most often is “So what’s J Allard’s next trick?”

According to my sources last fall, Allard was the champion of the Courier dual-screen tablet. Courier made it as far as an incubation before CEO Steve Ballmer & Co. decided not to pursue the project. (At Microsoft, incubations are more likely to turn into products than pure research projects, but they are still not yet on a guaranteed path to commercialization.)

Over the past month or so, I’ve been asking around about Allard’s whereabouts. One of my sources who has been a pretty reliable tipster in the past told me that Allard is on sabbatical and is unlikely to return to Microsoft. His name is still in the Global Address Book inside Microsoft, I hear, and his bio page is still unaltered on the Microsoft Corporate Web site, where he still is listed as Chief Experience Officer and Chief Technology Officer, Entertainment and Devices Division.

Word inside was Allard was none too happy about the killing off of Courier and has finally made good on his (what sounds like they may have been regular) threats about leaving the company all together. (Another person with whom I communicated claimed CEO Steve Ballmer showed Allard the door because of disagreements regarding the Courier’s potential.)

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Pretty interested to see what will happen to Microsoft if they lose one of the few people that was able to think outside the cubicle.

Bets on if he ends up at Google...or Apple?

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Watch him go to Google, and they release something resembling the Courier. OBviously not exactly the same due to IP, but something along the same thought process.

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if he was upset over a early-stage design prototype enough to leave the company... not a big loss.

Not...a big...loss? Do you realize exactly who he is, and what he's done for Microsoft?

He is known for his historic 1994 memo, "Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet", about the coming rise of the Internet. The memo, distributed to Microsoft leaders, reshaped the company's direction. Allard is a 1991 Boston University graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science, and he received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from Boston University at the 2009 Boston University Commencement Ceremony.

Zune

When Bryan Lee stepped down from his post as Zune Executive in charge of business development, Allard took over as the new executive. Allard is overseeing development of the Microsoft Zune, a handheld portable media device, initially seen by some media as a potential iPod rival. Allard has notably signed several artists as part of a broad Zune marketing campaign by Microsoft, which included heavy promotion during Seattle's Bumbershoot festival in 2006.

Xbox

Allard oversees all design and engineering for the Xbox console, peripherals, Microsoft's multiplayer online service Xbox Live, as well as development tools for video game developers. His responsibilities for Xbox carried over to Microsoft's 2005 video game console, the Xbox 360. On Xbox Live, Allard's Gamertag is "HiroProtagonist", derived from the name of the main character of Neal Stephenson's book Snow Crash.

So the executive in charge of the Zune and the Xbox360 might be leaving Microsoft...and that's not a big loss? :wacko:

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if he was upset over a early-stage design prototype enough to leave the company... not a big loss.

Ermmmmmmmmmmmmmm... so much is left out of that that it's not even funny. I have a feeling it's not simply about a "prototype", it's about Microsoft's culture and their unwillingness to take risks. Take out what Allard's influenced at Microsoft, and what risks or improvements have they really made? I mean, yes, they've made some, but he's contributed quite a bit to the company.

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This guy was a complete ass at xbox launch...thankfully he was demoted to a less public role, and now he's been shafted from an ever lesser role..."lol" comes to mind

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So the executive in charge of the Zune and the Xbox360 might be leaving Microsoft...and that's not a big loss? :wacko:

That might be a good thing. :laugh:

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Xbox

Allard oversees all design and engineering for the Xbox console........ His responsibilities for Xbox carried over to Microsoft's 2005 video game console, the Xbox 360.

So is he responsible for the mess the 360 was in at launch, and only really resolved with the arrival last year of the Jasper revision of the 360 motherboard (so 4 years to fix it).? How much has the RRoD and E74 errors on the 360 cost Microsoft.

I'd think twice before hiring him to oversee the engineering of anything...

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The success of the XBox was mainly a marketing one.

The console itself was badly designed. The original controller was too big for most gamers and needed to be re-designed. The console itself was big, loud, not much more powerful than the smaller and quiter Cube and did cost a lot of money to produce which leads MS to lose a good chunck of money for each unit sold. XBox Live was not ready at lauch and was plagued by cheaters and modded consoles/controllers for a while before the ban hammers.

In the first 3 or so months the XBox was far from a success. The Cube was selling more and had a little more 3rd party support. Xbox started to do well when MS secured ($) exclusive 3rd party support and bundled 2 free sega games with the console (games Sega was surely not giving free to Microsoft). Time exclusivity for Ubisoft titles did help a lot as well as the price drop. And this time exclusivity was not given free by Ubisoft either.

Xbox was such a big success because of all the money MS spent to market it. In the end MS did lost money with the XBox for a long period. The hardware itself was far from impressive. It was basically a powerful PC with a custom case and a closed architecture (hardware/software) sold for a fraction of the price.

I enjoyed mine a lot. The console had very good exclusive titles. And it was the more powerful of the 3 consoles even if the Cube was not as far as some fanboys was telling. But the design of the console was defintely not his selling point. It was big. It was loud. The orginal controller was as bad as the cube controller and the re-designed controller S was just a copy of the dual shock. Overall the selling point of the console was the exclusive 3rd party titles and the fact the MS was almost giving the hardware after the price drop loosing a good chunck of money for each unit sold. Now i don't know if Allard was in charge of those marketing decision. But the design of the hardware he was in charge of was nothing to write home about.

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So is he responsible for the mess the 360 was in at launch, and only really resolved with the arrival last year of the Jasper revision of the 360 motherboard (so 4 years to fix it).? How much has the RRoD and E74 errors on the 360 cost Microsoft.

I'd think twice before hiring him to oversee the engineering of anything...

No, that wasn't him job. Aaron Greenberg would be your man along with Robbie Back, the big cheese of the Entertainment division who is the main guy who says lets release this thing now to beat Sony at whatever cost, even when it's not up to the job. Allard was more the guy with the ideas and how to implement them, gave the Xbox a direction with Xbox Live, the Marketplace, general ecosystem etc. Allard moved on before the 360 launched.

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That might be a good thing. :laugh:

...how?

If you're using the whole "Zune isn't an iPod" logic, then you fail to grasp what Zune has done for Microsoft. Hell, if not for Zune, I have a hard time believing we'd have Windows Phone 7. And the 360 has been one of Microsoft's biggest recent successes. So I'm not following your logic.

As for the comments about the success of the Xbox being "marketing": huh? That makes no sense. And don't pawn the design issues off on Allard. That's like saying Steve Jobs is responsible for when your iPhone freezes.

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