Microsoft To Move Developer Outreach Team To Sales And Marketing Unit, Reporting to COO Turner


Microsoft's Developer Experience team (DX), a 13-year old organization that works with the vendor's developer ecosystem partners, is getting a new home.

Sometime in the next few weeks, the DX team -- which prior to July was known as the Developer and Platform Evangelism group -- will move to Microsoft's sales, marketing and services group (SMSG), the Redmond, Wash.-based vendor said Monday.

DX, which has been under the leadership of Eric Rudder, Microsoft's executive vice president of advanced strategy, will now be reporting to COO Kevin Turner.

Microsoft created DPE in 2001 with a goal of getting software developers excited about building apps using Microsoft tools. The DX team seems poised for a bigger role in light of CEO Satya Nadella's goal of getting Microsoft apps running on all kinds of competing devices, which will open new opportunities for third party coders.

Yet three Microsoft partners told CRN they're uneasy over what will happen to DX as part of SMSG, where it will be subject to Turner's scorecard system for measuring employee performance, which is widely disliked internally.

The problem with scorecards is that it's tough to measure performance for the sort of evangelism and developer outreach work that DX does, the partners said.

However, a Microsoft spokesperson told CRN that DX employees have been measured using the scorecard system for "years."

On the plus side, Microsoft has moved DPE/DX around several times in the past 18 months, and partners told CRN having a permanent home under SMSG could help make it more effective.

"[DPE/DX] has been so historically unfocused and spread thin that a little process may help out," one partner told CRN, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There are so many great and talented people [in DPE/DX]. It might be nice to get them all marching towards the same very clearly stated goals."

Reaction to the move also positive outside Microsoft. Adam Seligman, vice president of developer relations at Salesforce.com, thinks this is a great move, as evidenced by this tweet Tuesday:

DX is a team whose focus cuts across many different Microsoft product and services groups, and its engineers are tasked with knowing just about everything the company is doing.

In an interview last month, Steve Guggenheimer, chief evangelist and leader of the DX team, said Microsoft wants to make it easier for third party developers to write software for Microsoft platforms. His team is also focused on work to bring Microsoft software to other vendors' platforms.

In the past, Guggenheimer said different parts of Microsoft had different approaches to working with non-Microsoft technologies. For example, services people wanted to reach all the platforms they could, while platform people wanted as many services as possible running on Windows.

That's changing under Nadella. Microsoft released Office for iPad earlier this year and is working on an Android version. And it's partnering more closely with Xamarin, a partner whose tools enable developers to wrote apps for iOS and Android using Microsoft's Visual Studio and C#.

"I think you're seeing a smoothing of the lines within Microsoft, in terms of more and more organizations being aligned on an approach," Guggenheimer said in the interview. "What you're seeing now is more consistency in our approach."

At the beginning of 2013, DPE was under Nadella's leadership as part of Microsoft's Server and Tools business. In the re-org last July, Microsoft moved the team to its Business Development and Evangelism Group, under Tony Bates.

When Bates left in March after being passed over for CEO, Microsoft moved DPE under Rudder, where it has remained until now.