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Microsoft Appoints New President for Office

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Posted October 1, 2010 By Stuart J. Johnston     Feedback

Changes at the top of three important business groups will help Microsoft replace two other senior execs who have left or are about to leave the company. Microsoft has announced a new Office division.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced the promotion of three insiders as presidents of key divisions at the software giant.

The appointments, announced Friday, include a replacement for former Business Division president Stephen Elop, who left Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) to become CEO of Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia two weeks ago.

That role has now has been filled by Kurt DelBene, an 18-year company veteran, who will now be president of the newly renamed Office Division.

The position puts DelBene in the catbird seat for not only the company's best-selling Office productivity applications but also for "clients, servers, and services for information workers, including Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, Visio and Microsoft’s speech technology investment," the company said in a statement.

DelBene's previous job title was senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Division, where he was in charge of engineering for the recently released Office 2010 products.

"Kurt and his teams will focus on driving adoption of Office 2010, accelerating the adoption of our cloud productivity services, and envisioning and delivering our next generation of productivity solutions for both enterprise and consumer customers," Ballmer said in an email to employees.

In the announcement, Microsoft said DelBene has had a sterling track record at the company.

"Office 2010 has already become the fastest selling consumer version of Office, Microsoft Online Services have already surpassed 40 million paid seats, and more than 20 million customers have adopted the recently released Office Web Applications in the first 100 days," Microsoft said in a statement.

DelBene's wife, Suzan, who is also a 14-year Microsoft alumnus, is currently running for U.S. Congress as a Democrat.

Mobile gets a new president

Ballmer also promoted Andy Lees to president of Microsoft's Mobile Communications Business (MCB), which includes responsibility for the company's crucial Windows Phone 7, which may be launched as early as later this month with commercial availability in time for holiday sales.

Lees has already been in charge of the company's mobile strategy since a Feb. 2008 companywide reorganization.

Until the title upgrade, Lees was senior vice president of the business. Prior to that, he served as corporate vice president of Microsoft's Server and Tools marketing and solutions group. Lees has been with Microsoft for 20 years.

"As President of MCB, Andy will continue to oversee the overall marketing and product development for our mobility efforts, which are so critical to Microsoft’s future. Those of you who were at the company meeting or viewed it online saw what Windows Phone 7 looks like — there is a lot to be proud of," Ballmer said in his email to employees.

Apparently, Ballmer and the rest of senior management don't hold the Kin phone debacle of last summer against Lees. However, they may not be so forgiving if Windows Phone 7 isn't well received.

Meanwhile, Don Mattrick was promoted to president of the Interactive Entertainment Business, which has responsibility for the Microsoft Kinect motion capture, controller-less game controller launch coming early next month. Mattrick is a relative newcomer compared to DelBene and Lees.

He joined Microsoft in 2007 after first working as an "external advisor" to the company's Entertainment and Devices Division (EDD), then headed by Robbie Bach, who resigned his job as president of EDD last May.

Prior to that, he worked for Electronic Arts for many years.

Mattrick was previously senior vice president of Microsoft's TV, video and music business. In his new role, he'll be in charge of Xbox 360, Kinect, Xbox Live, and the Zune media player, among other products.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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