Microsoft Executive Shuffle: New .ORG for .NET

Microsoft Corp. reorganized its executive staff last month to focus on its .NET initiative. Among the high-level executive reshuffling, there were a few moves that raised eyebrows.

Rob Horwitz, editor in chief of Directions on Microsoft (www.directionsonmicrosoft.com), a Redmond, Wash.-based analyst firm that produces an organizational chart of Microsoft executives among other research reports, says, "This is probably more of a logical evolution as the strategy gels and they understand the different dependencies."

Microsoft unveiled its .NET initiative in June to extend its platform from its current base of servers, PCs, and wireless devices to include Internet services hosted by Microsoft or third-party providers.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft president and CEO, calls .NET a "bet-the-company" undertaking, although it is unclear where .NET will stand if the government succeeds in chopping Microsoft in half.

With the realignment, the big players in .NET include Bob Muglia, Jim Allchin, Paul Maritz, Rick Belluzzo, Jeff Raikes, and Paul Flessner.

The names of Microsoft's four core product groups remain similar to what they have been since the December 1999 reorganization. The Developer Group stays the same. The Platforms Group becomes the Platforms Product Group, and the Business Productivity Group is now the Productivity and Business Services Group. The Consumer Group expands its moniker to the Personal Services and Devices Group.

Muglia takes on the high-profile position of group vice president of the new .NET Services Group, a department of great personal interest to chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates.

Muglia will oversee David Cole, senior vice president of the Personal Services Platform Division; Brian MacDonald, senior vice president of the Subscription Service Division; and Kai-Fu Lee, vice president in charge of the User Interface Technologies Division.

Muglia was on equal footing with Belluzzo, the group vice president of the Personal Services and Devices Group on the last organizational chart. Now Muglia reports to Belluzzo, the former CEO of Silicon Graphics Inc. who joined Microsoft last year. Belluzzo’s responsibilities already included managing MSN.com, the television services and platform business and Expedia.

"When you look at it in the scheme of how things are viewed within Microsoft, this has always been a company where you get a lot more prominence working on the latest, greatest technologies than on the cash cows," Horwitz, a former Microsoft employee, says.

Jeff Raikes returns to the product side to fill in Muglia’s previous post, group vice president of the business productivity group. Raikes had run the worldwide Sales, Marketing, and Services Group. Raikes was the original vice president of Office Systems and now will help turn Office into Office.NET.

Maritz’s Developer Group will be responsible for turning the Visual Studio products into Visual Studio.NET.

Allchin remains on the organizational chart in charge of the platforms group, which will include the transformation of Windows into Windows.NET.

Paul Flessner, promoted to vice president of SQL Server last December, continues his ascent with a new position as senior vice president for the .NET Enterprise Server Division. Flessner is now in charge of seven enterprise server product launches this year: Exchange 2000 Server, SQL Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, Application Center 2000, Host Integration Server 2000, Commerce Server 2000, and Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2000.

Many of those server products, including Exchange, are new to Allchin’s platforms group.

Allchin, a 10-year veteran of Microsoft, took a sabbatical until this month. The time off had been widely viewed as a departure for the Windows chief in the time-honored Microsoft tradition of going on sabbatical and not coming back. For some Microsoft observers, Allchin was the poster child for a perceived broad exodus of Microsoft employees in the wake of Microsoft’s serious defeat in the district court round of the anti-trust settlement with the government. Bolstering that theory was the observation that some of Microsoft’s worst moments in the anti-trust trial phase came while Allchin was on the stand.

In other reorganization moves, Microsoft put its senior vice president of the South Pacific and Americas Region, Orlando Ayala, into the job Raikes vacated: group vice president of the Sales, Marketing, and Services Group. Deborah Willingham moves from vice president of marketing in Allchin’s Platforms Products Group to vice president of Human Resources.