Microsoft heir apparent looks for life after Windows

Looking past the fail that is Vista, Microsoft is working on a next-generation operating system codenamed "Midori." Eric Rudder, a senior vice president at Microsoft whose name has been floated as Microsoft's next CEO, will be developing the new OS. Shockingly from a company known for slogging away at version after version of its existing software, Midori won't even be based on Windows. Programming for Midori will also be different, designed for many kinds of devices, from cell phones to server farms.

But since Midori is still a long ways out, Microsoft is still trying hard to polish up Vista. Microsoft recently organized focus groups of disgruntled Windows XP users and showed them a brand new OS called "Mojave." After the participants were cajoled into saying the new OS with shiny doodads was far superior, it was revealed that Mojave was none other than Vista. The trick reminds us of Folger's ads — and reminds us how Ballmer used to work at Procter & Gamble. There is the battle for Microsoft's soul lain bare: The marketers, led by Ballmer's old guard, who repackage even the slightest tweak as "new and improved!" versus the technologists, led by Rudder, who are seeking to build something genuinely new. The safe bet, alas, is on the marketers.