Microsoft reshuffles Platforms & Services division

Microsoft has reshuffled its Platforms & Services division into eight groups in the wake of another Vista delay.

As expected, Microsoft has reshuffled its Platforms & Services Division, appointing Steve Sinofsky to lead a new group overseeing Windows OS and Windows Live services development, the company said Thursday.

The restructuring -- part of a plan by the vendor to repair what it sees as lack of agility and growth in the division that oversees its largest property, Windows -- also breaks up and renames groups that were formerly a part of the MSN division.

Kevin Johnson, co-president of the Platforms & Services Division, announced the changes in an e-mail to his division on Thursday. The group overseen by former Office group leader Sinofsky -- the Windows and Windows Live Group -- is one of eight groups that now comprise the division, according to Microsoft.

The other groups are Windows Live Platform Group, led by Blake Irving, corporate vice president; the Online Business Group, led by David Cole, senior vice president; the Market Expansion Group, led by Will Poole, senior vice president; the Core Operating System Division, led by Brian Valentine, senior vice president; the Windows Client Marketing Group, led by Mike Sievert, corporate vice president; the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group, led by Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president; and the Server and Tools Business Group, led by Bob Muglia, senior vice president.

The Windows and Windows Live Group is new, and includes the Windows engineering team as well as development for the Windows Live online services Microsoft launched in November. Also new are both the Windows Live Platform Group and the Market Expansion Group, while Cole's Online Business Group replaces the division that once was MSN, according to Microsoft.

The Online Business Group includes advertising sales, business development and marketing for Live Platforms, Windows Live and all of the MSN properties, including MSN.com, MSNTV and MSN Internet Access. Microsoft's MSN division has suffered from lack of growth and an identity crisis, especially after Microsoft announced its set of Web-based services under the Live brand in November.

Online Business Group leader Cole was formerly a top MSN executive alongside Yusuf Mehdi, who also has reshuffled into a different role. Mehdi now serves as senior vice president and chief advertising strategist as part of the new management team of Platforms & Services. Cole plans to take a leave of absence from Microsoft in April and a new leader for the Online Business Group will be announced at that time, Microsoft said.

Some MSN teams that had been working on services and capabilities for Microsoft's online offerings also fall under the Windows Live Platform Group. The Market Expansion Group will focus on emerging markets and new form factors, including the Origami ultramobile PC Microsoft and hardware partners recently unveiled.

All of the other groups and their leaders remain the same, except Sievert now reports directly to Johnson, Microsoft said.

In his e-mail, Johnson said he and group Co-President Jim Allchin worked out the changes together to prepare for Allchin's impending retirement at the end of the year. In addition to spurring growth and agility in the division, the changes also were made to advance Microsoft's Web-based services strategy, he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Microsoft planned to make sweeping changes in its Platforms & Services Division in the wake of another delay to the release of the next version of Windows, Windows Vista. On Tuesday, Microsoft said it would not meet its deadline to release the client version of Vista on hardware by the end of the year. Instead, the business versions of the OS would be available to volume licensing customers by then, but the OS would not be on PCs until January 2007.

Microsoft has been under pressure to grow its revenue as its seen growth in its core businesses -- Windows and Office -- level off in recent years.

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