One of the industry's highest ranking female executives, Patty Stonesifer, has resigned as senior vice president of Microsoft, sparking off a wholesale realignment of the company's business.
The reshuffle will leave the company with two main product groups - one covering platforms and applications and another focusing on interactive media like the company's online service.
Peter Higgins, previously a group VP, will succeed Stonesifer and head the interactive media unit. Paul Maritz will head the platforms and applications group.
The changes signal a reduction in MS' dependence on its core desktop business, plus a greater emphasis on the consumer side of its business.
But Robert Sakakeeny, an analyst at Aberdeen Group, said the realignment was really an attempt to put an end to internal squabbling. Commenting on Stonesifer's resignation, he said: 'Lots of senior executives in the top companies are making moves. It is an exhausting industry to be in.'
MS CEO Bill Gates said: 'Today's move optimises the ability of Microsoft to take advantage of the business and technical opportunities we see as customers rapidly adopt the Internet and intranets.
'Customers demand increased synergy among products, more compelling content, improved ease of use and lower cost of ownership. Networked PCs are delivering on each of these benefits and the realignment we are announcing positions Microsoft well to continue its leadership.'
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