Are Microsoft's second-tier executives all second-rate? Apparently. Microsoft has just tapped Stephen Elop, the COO of Juniper Networks, to run its Business division, which includes the highly profitable Office suite. Elop, the former CEO of Macromedia, is a good fit. But his hire sends an unwelcome message to up-and-comers within Redmond: Keep toiling away, but don't aspire to run one of Microsoft's great franchises. Bill Gates can find someone better than you elsewhere. Which should be as good a signal as any for them to start leaving.