Ina Fried

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Windows Unit Gets Fresh Leaders as Phone, PC and Xbox Efforts Move Closer Together

Less than two months after the big “One Microsoft” reorganization plan was announced, more units are starting to learn how the high-level changes will affect their operations.

terry_myerson1

Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com

Within the Windows unit, Microsoft is pushing the phone, Xbox and PC efforts closer together. The company is also rejiggering the Windows leadership structure, with new posts for a number of longtime leaders and a number of familiar faces being dropped from the leadership ranks.

A broad memo outlining this part of the reorganization isn’t expected to go out until later Monday. However, the details are starting to make the rounds inside Redmond as workers meet with their supervisors. (An even earlier hint at who was in and out was some notable absences at the recent Windows 8.1 ship party.)

Sources familiar with the new structure provided an overview of how the revamped Windows team will operate.

Windows and Windows Phone head Terry Myerson will have at least seven direct reports in the new structure, including leaders for the development, test and program-management positions, plus individuals heading the company’s phone/tablet/PC, Xbox and services departments, and another in charge of “future special projects.”

Heading development will be Henry Sanders, who had worked with Myerson on Windows Phone. Also from the phone team, Joe Belfiore will lead a group focused on phones, tablets and PCs. The Xbox team will be run by Marc Whitten. Chris Jones will continue heading services.

The Windows reorganization comes amid what are expected to be a flurry of organizational changes and departures at Microsoft, as employees see their stock options vest and learn their fate in the newly restructured company.

Among the names not atop the new leadership list are Windows testing head Grant George, Windows services head Antoine Leblond, and Microsoft veteran Jon DeVaan. It is unclear whether the trio will land roles within Windows, elsewhere at Microsoft, or end up leaving the company.

Meanwhile, longtime Internet Explorer head Dean Hachamovitch is still in charge of that team, though it is being left open to whom he will report in the new structure.

Microsoft is expected to tout the new structure as showing progress in moving once-disparate programming efforts closer together. Microsoft has already moved the software base behind its Xbox and phone efforts over to a Windows core, and is expected to further unify its approach over time.

In putting PCs, phones and tablets together under Joe Belfiore, Microsoft is trying to make the case that there is no clear line separating a large phone from a small tablet or a tablet with a detachable keyboard from a laptop. A separate unit will look at new opportunities for Windows, such as wearable computing.

Not all within the Windows unit were pleased to hear of the reorganization, with critics noting that, with George and DeVaan, Microsoft is pushing aside two of the unit’s most experienced hands at a time of great change. Some also said the new structure appeared rushed, with some key details yet to be ironed out.

Although increasingly characterizing itself as a devices and services company rather than a software maker, Microsoft is keeping the parts of the company working on hardware separate from those making the software.

While Myerson has oversight over all the software work that goes into phones, tablets, PCs and Xbox, he has no direct role overseeing hardware, with those efforts reporting to Julie Larson-Green. The move could help ease concerns of hardware companies whose own work competes with Microsoft, but also runs the risk of making the efforts less integrated than rivals, such as Apple.

The hardware unit is due to grow significantly if Microsoft’s pending Nokia deal goes through. Current Nokia executive (and former Microsoft Office head) Stephen Elop is due to take the reins of the expanded hardware division (assuming that he doesn’t get the CEO spot).


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