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Microsoft: Don't Trust Anyone Over 40

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Technology has always been a young person's game. When I started covering technology, in 1982, so was leadership at Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT).

It was in that year, as a Microsoft corporate timeline at Thocp.net notes, that Jon Shirley was brought in from RadioShack (NYSE:RSH) -- Radio Shack! -- because Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer needed "adult supervision."

The entrepreneurs who created the dot-boom in the 1990s were also young men and women. So was Larry Page, throughout the last decade, while he and classmate Sergey Brin were building Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

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Technology happens on campuses, and campuses are ruled by the young. The very best scientists make their great discoveries before they're 40, and it's a cliché that they then spend the rest of their careers teaching, coaching, and managing their successors. It's mostly true.

Over the last few weeks, I've written about how much pressure Microsoft is under with the launch of Windows 8, and how we should worry more about their aging leadership than about, say, Google.

Shareholders lost a reported $10 billion in equity Tuesday with the sudden resignation of Windows head Steven Sinofsky,as reported by Mashable.com.

The knives have since come out for him. He was supposedly after his boss's job,writes Business Insider. He's supposedly abrasive and off-putting,says The Verge.

The whole thing is adolescent, but getting closer to adolescence is what Microsoft needs most.

Sinofsky's replacements are two executives in their forties, neither of whom started their careers at the company. Julie Larson-Green told Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet that she applied to Microsoft after college,but was turned down and worked at Aldus until 1994. Tami Reller came to Microsoft with Great Plains Software and only moved to Redmond in 2006, according to a 2006 profile at Microsoft's Channel 9 site.

Despite everything, Microsoft remains inventive. Microsoft recently demonstrated real-time, spoken-language translation, a two-step process of first, turning speech into text, and then translating the text.

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