J Allard

photo courtesy of Microsoft
photo courtesy of Microsoft

Sometimes It Pays to Scream at Your Boss

Sometimes it pays to scream at your boss. Maybe not every day, but there are those rare moments, as J Allard discovered in the early 1990s, shortly after joining Microsoft.

As a teenager, Allard (CAS’91) had dialed into computer message boards and as a computer science major at BU, he was an early convert to the Internet (such as it was back then). At Microsoft, he wrote a memo in 1994 arguing for a new corporate focus on the Internet. Bill Gates thought otherwise. After all, Microsoft (and Gates) was already making piles of money by specializing in proprietary desktop software.

“That was in interesting conversation,” muses Allard, who calls it his “Jerry Maguire moment.” “But I didn’t go to Microsoft to put a computer on every desk in every home. By 1994 that was inevitable. So why stop there?”

Once his temper cooled, Gates put Allard in charge of bringing Microsoft into the Internet age. His team developed Internet Explorer for Windows, along with other Web initiatives.

During his years at Microsoft, Allard continued to innovate. As chief experience officer and chief technology officer for the Entertainment and Devices Division, he oversaw Microsoft’s first foray into the video game industry, the Xbox. Allard also oversaw development of the Microsoft Zune, a handheld portable media device, initially seen by some media as a potential iPod rival.

Allard, who left Microsoft in 2010, received an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Letters) from BU at the 2009 Boston University Commencement Ceremony.

Material from Bostonia, BU’s alumni magazine, was used for this article. Read the Bostonia profile on Allard here.