Microsoft appoints new platform strategist

Microsoft Corp. has expanded the job description of its competitive business strategist and appointed a more senior person to the job.

The Redmond, Washington, software vendor named company veteran Martin Taylor "platform strategist" as part of its end-of-financial-year staff shuffle, a company spokeswoman said last week.

Taylor succeeds Peter Houston, who as senior director of server strategy had been tasked with driving Microsoft's competitive server business strategy with respect to Linux and other open source products. The job has been expanded from just servers to cover all Windows platforms. Also, Taylor is higher up in Microsoft's hierarchy as a "general manager" of competitive strategy.

In each of its financial filings over the past quarters, Microsoft has publicly stated that Linux and open source in general threaten its business model.

Expanding the scope of the competitive strategist's job makes sense, said Rob Helm, research director at Directions on Microsoft Inc., an independent research firm in Kirkland, Washington.

"Right now the single biggest thing the company has to drive across its business units is a response to Linux and open source software. Martin Taylor has been handed the ball. Overall it seems like the company is starting to operate against open source from more than a single product perspective," Helm said.

Taylor has been with Microsoft for over 10 years, most recently serving as director of business strategy in the office of Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer. He held several positions before that, including that of general manager at Microsoft Caribbean Inc. in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Houston has moved on to product development and will be in the enterprise management division, a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

As part of the game of musical chairs at the end of each financial year, Microsoft also recently reorganized its Platforms Group, combining the Developer and Platform Evangelism, Windows Server System and Enterprise Storage and Management units. Microsoft's financial year ends in June.

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