Microsoft Shuffles Online Services, Mobile Execs

A total of 18 executives have changed their roles this time around, including 14 promotions, three departures, and a temporary shift.
More personnel changes are afoot at Microsoft, the software company announced Thursday.

Microsoft's adding three names to a growing list of recently departed and departing executives that includes chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, and is setting the stage for new executives to lead Microsoft's continuing online transformation and possible integration of Yahoo. Gates, of course, will remain as chairman and work for the company part time.

Microsoft is often awash in executive shuffles after the company's annual review period, but a total of 18 executives have changed their roles this time around, including 14 promotions, three departures, and a temporary shift.

Chief among the promotions is probably that of now senior VP Bill Veghte, who previously oversaw the company's Windows business. Veghte will continue managing Windows strategy, sales, and marketing, but he'll also now take on strategy, sales, and marketing for Windows Live, MSN, and Live Search. That shift helps formalize a strategy already under way to tighten the relationship between Windows and online counterpart Windows Live.

Another significant promotion is that of senior VP Satya Nadella, a fast riser in the company who's seen his role and influence grow significantly in the last year and a half. Nadella has gone from running research and development for Microsoft's ERP and CRM products in mid-2006 to now heading up engineering for Microsoft's entire search and advertising business as well as its MSN group.

Together with recently acquired aQuantive exec Brian McAndrews, Nadella and Veghte will play key roles in Microsoft's growing battle with Google for online ad dollars and in Microsoft's transformation if and when the company acquires Yahoo.

Veghte takes over the Internet services business from former CEO Steve Berkowitz, who will leave the company in August after helping with the executive transition, Microsoft says. Berkowitz oversaw a period where Microsoft struggled to find a coherent branding strategy for its online services, including Windows Live and MSN.

The other two executives leaving the company are Windows consumer product marketing VP Mike Sievert and mobile communications senior VP Peter Knook. Sievert is leaving to pursue startup opportunities after a rocky first year for Windows Vista's reputation in the consumer market and will be replaced by Brad Brooks. Knook, who's jumping ship in the midst of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, has been hired by Vodafone as director of Internet services.

Replacing Knook will be newly promoted senior VP Andy Lees, formerly the top marketing exec in Microsoft's server and tools business. Lees doesn't have experience in the mobile world, but his experience with developers and enterprise customers should serve Microsoft's growing mobile business well. Lees will have a newly promoted report as well, corporate VP Roz Ho, who will run Microsoft's premium mobile offerings group, including new Microsoft acquisition Danger, which makes the Sidekick mobile device for T-Mobile. Danger CEO Hank Nothaft won't be making the trek to Microsoft after the transition period.

These changes in Microsoft's entertainment and devices division -- which includes mobile software and devices -- and the promotion of Brian Tobey, the Microsoft exec in charge of manufacturing and IT for that group, indicate the growing importance of mobile software and devices to the company. Microsoft also recently hired Todd Peters, who helped create Staples' "Easy Button" advertising campaign, as VP of mobile communications.

Among the other notable moves: VP S. Somasegar, a 17-year Microsoft vet who runs the company's developer division as well as development labs in India and Canada, gets the word "senior" attached to the front of his title; Scott Guthrie, former general manager of the .Net Developer Platform, becomes a VP; and former application platform marketing general manager Steve Guggenheimer gets promoted to VP and takes over a vacant position to manager Microsoft's relationships with computer manufacturers. Three top Office execs also got promotions.

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