Microsoft has unveiled details of its long-anticipated restructure, but denied the reorganisation was a prelude to a resolution of its bitter anti-trust dogfight with the Department of Justice (DoJ).
As revealed in PC Dealer on 17 March, Microsoft will be split into four main divisions focusing on key customer groups, with two other divisions looking after internet business and peripheral activities.
The restructure was announced in the same week that Microsoft began settlement talks with the DoJ to resolve the five-month courtroom dispute, although an imminent settlement looked unlikely.
Describing the restructure as a 'renewal of our vision', Microsoft president Steve Ballmer said the software giant needed to change to 'empower people on the internet, using any device, whether the people are rich or poor'.
'It has become clear that if we are to do the right thing by our customers, we will have to reinvent ourselves for the next 10-15 years,' Ballmer said. 'We need business divisions that have a broad charter and are dedicated to a set of customers and the products they want.'
Bill Gates, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft, called the reorganisation a 'framework for innovation', making references to Microsoft's competitive environment.
'There is some great competition out there in the software industry as well,' he stated.
However, both executives refuted any suggestion that the restructure was linked to the anti-trust trial. 'This is no kind of prelude to a settlement.
It's about getting synergy within Microsoft. This is a very competitive business,' said Ballmer.
A representative for Microsoft UK said the changes would have little effect on the company's UK operation. 'This is about how Microsoft develops its products, so it's very much a product and development change. It's business as usual in the UK,' he said.
Meanwhile, the resumption of the anti-trust trial has been delayed until 10 May at the earliest. It was originally scheduled to resume on 12 April.
Business and enterprise division Jim Allchin, senior vice president, will focus on software technology for customers. Vice president Brian Valentine will lead development.
Consumer Windows division David Cole, vice president, will take responsibility for evolving the Windows platform for consumers.
Business productivity group Bob Muglia, senior vice president, will focus on the needs of those who rely on information accessible through IT.
Developer group Paul Maritz, group vice president, will concentrate on the software developer customer.
Consumer and commerce group Brad Chase, vice president, and Jon DeVaan, vice president, will have joint responsibility for bringing consumers and businesses online. Brad Silverberg will act as advisor to the group.
Home and retail products division Robbie Bach, vice president, will head the consumer-targeted products group, which includes games, input devices and reference products.
In addition, a business leadership team with Gates and Ballmer at the helm will replace the executive committee as the most senior decision-making unit. The team will meet one day a month to ensure the company is meeting its targets and will consist of all group vice presidents and senior vice presidents.
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