Peter Pathe Preps Microsoft Departure


His may not be a household name as Microsoft names go. But Peter Pathe is a big mover and shaker.

After 25 years with the company, he's getting ready to retire and this Microsoft Press Pass Q&A shows off what he's done for the Big M. For one thing, ubiquitous Microsoft Word was Pathe's baby for 15 years.

Fun facts: Word started out--as so many successful products did-- at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. There it was known as "Bravo."

(Note to Microsoft, it's XEROX, not IBM PARC.)

Charles Simonyi brought Bravo to Microsoft in 1981. And, "while many credit Simonyi as the 'Father of Word,' Microsoft Corporate Vice President Peter Pathe has been the program's legal guardian throughout the Windows Era."

And my fave from Pathe's answers:

"We knew that we needed to make Word easier to use and the features more accessible to more people. But it turns out a cartoon paper clip asking if you wanted help with that letter to Mom wasn't always as welcome as we had hoped it would be. Dismissing the Tip of the Day (Don't run with scissors!) before getting settled into work was also an extra step that was ultimately more annoying than helpful. Great people worked on these features, but at the end of the day we needed to make them less obtrusive or simply not have shipped them in the form we did.

"

Some dinosaurs in the press corps (cough) even remember Pathe's first foray at Microsoft. He was Mr. TrueType. TrueType was Microsoft's font (fontal?) assault on Adobe's font stranglehold.

Since then Pathe's been a big force behind Word, the de facto word processing standard. A spokeswoman reminds that Word is now 18 years old! Yes: if it were a person it could vote. Some remember being forced off Xywrite for Word. (cough, cough.)

Word did to Xywrite and WordPerfect what Windows did to OS/2. And Excel to 1-2-3. And. . . . well you get the picture.

:Pathe's purview has since included InfoPath, OneNote and the "authoring apps," says Microsoft.