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Ballmer: Three-layered plan will lead to 'One Microsoft'

Juan Carlos Perez | Sept. 23, 2013
Two months in, it's hard to tell the status of the realignment plan that's supposed to bring cohesion and agility to Microsoft.

It's been two months since Steve Ballmer unfurled his plan to restructure Microsoft's operations, and inquiring minds would like to know what stage the process is at.

In fact, he was asked just that on Thursday during the company's meeting with Wall Street analysts, but Ballmer's answer wasn't entirely clear or specific.

The analyst who brought up the subject asked whether the process was completed and, if it's not, whether it would take several more quarters for all the pieces of the different teams to be in place and for everyone to know whom they report to.

Ballmer answered that there are three layers to the implementation of the plan, although he didn't explain what each layer involves.

"The first layer is obviously done," he said.

In that case, the first layer may have involved the drafting and announcing of the plan, completed in July.

At that time, Ballmer explained the realignment is designed to make Microsoft function in a more unified, cohesive manner so that it can be more agile responding to market opportunities and innovating.

As part of the restructuring, Microsoft dissolved its five business units — the Business Division, which housed Office; Server & Tools, which included SQL Server and System Center; the Windows Division; Online Services, which included Bing; and Entertainment and Devices, whose main product was the Xbox console.

It replaced them with four engineering groups organized by function, around operating systems, applications, cloud computing and devices, and by centralized groups for marketing, business development, strategy and research, finance, human resources, legal and operations.

Terry Myerson was appointed to lead the new Operating Systems Engineering Group, while Julie Larson-Green was picked to helm the Devices and Studios Engineering Group. Qi Lu became chief of the Applications and Services Engineering Group, while Satya Nadella was chosen as head of the Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group.

The Dynamics enterprise software apps team was left as it was and Kirill Tatarinov remained at the helm. Kevin Turner stayed in his chief operating officer role, as did CFO Amy Hood, General Counsel Brad Smith and HR head Lisa Brummel.

Tami Reller, who had led the Windows team with Larson-Green, was appointed marketing chief for the company. Eric Rudder was chosen to lead the Advanced Strategy and Research Group, while Tony Bates, former Skype president, was put in charge of the Business Development and Evangelism Group.

After declaring the first layer completed, Ballmer on Thursday went on to say that "there's not a lot of change in Kevin's world at the next layer," referring to COO Turner.

Reller, the marketing chief, is "mostly done" and Bates, the business development and evangelism head, is "mostly done I would say, on the business side."


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