And in Microsoft's engineering-driven culture, such a term could promise something else for McAndrews: longevity. That Microsoft granted his request illustrates a new approach Chief Executive Steve Ballmer is taking as he tries to expand company into new areas from online music to videogames to Internet advertising. Ballmer has found he must tap outsiders rather than rely so heavily on homegrown managers as in the past.
How Microsoft fares with McAndrews will be a test for Ballmer, who has tried over the years to make the company a more hospitable place for outside talent. A combination of forces within Microsoft -- its engineers' exalted stature, its insular culture, its sheer size -- make integrating new executives a lingering problem. Often through Microsoft's history, decisive and aggressive outsiders have been worn down by the second-guessing of Microsoft veterans before stepping down to less prominent roles or leaving altogether.