Sunday, February 15, 2009

Former Windows chief Jim Allchin to release debut podsafe album: 'Enigma'

As his former Microsoft colleagues work to get Windows 7 out the door, Jim Allchin is getting ready for a new release of his own. The longtime Windows chief, who retired after Vista's debut, sings and displays his considerable guitar skills on "Enigma," a new solo CD scheduled to debut next month. Amazon is already taking preorders.

To get a sense for Allchin's talent on the guitar, check out "Kick It," the last track on this sample page. Allchin's site also has an interesting biography in the style of VH1's "Behind the Music," tracking his life from its modest origins on a Florida orange grove through college to Microsoft and beyond. There's even a fun, Rick Springfield-style photo (below) among his press images.

"Enigma" incorporates a wide range of styles, but one reference on the Web site shows that Allchin applied to the album a level of discipline that the Windows team, under his leadership, struggled to achieve at times during the Vista development process: "To avoid even more diversity several songs were eventually removed from the CD because they included even more styles," the site says.

The tracks removed "will show up on the next CD for sure," the site says.

Allchin's longtime passion for the guitar was well-known during his time at the company, so his musical turn isn't a surprise. He has stayed in the news since his Microsoft departure because of a series of emails disclosed in lawsuits against the company, showing him writing candidly about about Apple and the Windows Vista Capable program, among other topics.

So what's with the album title? Appropriately enough, it appears to be based at least in part on computer science.

Enigma Machine is the name of the first track. "Enigma Machines were early encoders/decoders for cryptography," Allchin explains on his site. "They had many rotors and the guitar sound in this song reminds me of this amazing device as well as the intensity of the search for an answer to some puzzle."