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Microsoft divisional realignment boosts Windows Live, bolsters Ozzie

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Microsoft divisional realignment boosts Windows Live, bolsters Ozzie

Redmond (WA) – In a move from Microsoft today that actually was anticipated – as opposed to the Windows Vista delay – the company has made another strategic realignment of its business divisions, which perhaps most importantly boosts the power and outreach of CTO Ray Ozzie even further, and places him squarely in command of Windows Live – now the clear successor to MSN.

Within the company’s Platforms and Services division (PSD), created last September during a more massive shakeup, co-president Kevin Johnson will continue to share power with Jim Allchin, who still plans to retire once Vista is released to manufacturing. When that happens, Johnson will lead eight divisions, among them newly created and expanded groups to support Microsoft’s burgeoning Windows Live projects. The newly christened Windows and Windows Live Group will be led on the organizational chart by Steven Sinofsky, who until today was leading the Office 2007 development project. Microsoft describes the new group as being devoted to creating “experiences” for the Windows Live customer, which could be interpreted to mean that Sinofsky will manage the rollout of services over Windows Live, including improvements to Virtual Earth, Start.com, and Windows Live Search.

CORRECTION: Sinofsky will report to CTO Ray Ozzie, as will corporate vice president Blake Irving, who will head the newly-christened Windows Live Platform Group. This new Live group, which Irving will head directly, will be devoted to building the new back-end infrastructure for its online services. Microsoft has not stated what Sinofsky’s shift will mean for Office, whose release plans are at least temporarily up in the air as its former promotional partner, Vista, is pushed out until January.

In one of the more curious elements of the new arrangement, Sinofsky’s group will also be devoted to conceiving and planning future editions of Windows, “future” in this instance referring most likely to “Blackcomb” and other long-distant versions, planned for the post-Vista timeframe. Meanwhile, Brian Valentine, who stays in the Core Operating System Division, will devote his team’s efforts solely to Vista; and Bob Muglia, in the Server and Tools Business Group, will remain focused on what will likely become “Windows Server 2007,” still code-named “Longhorn.”

The Online Business Group will inherit what remains of the MSN brand name, including the MSN ISP (which some analysts predict could eventually cease to exist), the MSN.com family of Web sites, and MSNTV Internet television distribution. While it consumes MSN, Online Business will also be responsible for the marketing and promotion of Windows Live – so MSN doesn’t even get a division unto itself now. Leadership for this group will be in a transitional phase, to be headed for a short time by senior vice president David Cole.

Senior Vice President Will Poole will lead a newly created Market Expansion Group, which will focus on “emerging markets and new form factors” including the new Starter Edition of Windows XP, the forthcoming starter edition of Vista, and of all things, the UMPC. Here, Microsoft had every opportunity to transfer this fledgling, and perhaps underdeveloped, product to the Entertainment and Devices division which manages Xbox and Xbox 360. The eHome engineering team, once part of PSD, will be transferred there under Robbie Bach’s leadership; UMPC could have tagged along. But perhaps Poole’s group will be an incubator of sorts for embryonic ideas that need a little more simmering time.

Mike Sievert’s position as head of Windows Client Marketing is safe, as well as Sanjay Parthasarathy’s as leader of the Platform and Developer Evangelism Group.