"With Bill Gates recent switch to part-time, have you noticed a change in daily activity at Microsoft, or have things stayed relatively unaffected?"
No, not really.
If anything, things are more dynamic as the focus is more distributed across several execs who help fill Bill's shoes.
After Bill announced that he was going part-time last summer (citing a desire to go full-time at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) there was no ogreat whooshing sound. I've seen plenty of references about Bill in the press, most recently with Bill in Beijing to announce a bundle of Office and Windows, dubbed the $3 Student Innovation Suite, that will be available to students through their governments. (It includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Office Home and Student 2007, Windows Live Mail Desktop and other educational oriented products.)
Ray Ozzie assumed the role of chief software architect, but had a seemingly lower public profile as he integrated himself into the company. Recently, I've seen Ray's visibility rise: Ray has an interview in Knowledge@Wharton online who, when asked about certain transitions...
Knowledge@Wharton: Isn't the transformation difficult?
Ozzie: Well, any transformation is difficult. Any transformation in the industry has some risk associated with it, and some opportunity.
When you look at the transformation from mainframes to minis, minis to PCs, PCs to LANs, LANs to the web, the web to where we're going -- which is services -- there were some companies that recognized the threat/opportunity and managed that transition. Some changed their business model and thrived.
Having a couple of people step into Bill's shoes is such a transition, IMHO.
Craig Mundie's profile has also increased, most recently in his push with Orlando Ayala on
"Unlimited Potential" program, where technology is used to help create a better educated workforce.
Kevin Turner and the division presidents are also much more in the public eye (I'd be interested to see if the number of news reports year over year is up dramatically on these four... and I'd guess that there has been a bigger coverage jump than in past years).