Update: Microsoft taps Sinofsky to lead Windows business unit

The move comes two days after it announced some versions of Vista would be delayed

As expected, Microsoft Corp. today announced that it has reshuffled its Platforms & Services Division, appointing Steve Sinofsky to lead a new group overseeing Windows operating systems and Windows Live services development.

The restructuring -- part of a plan by the vendor to repair what it called a lack of agility and growth in the division that oversees its largest property, Windows -- also breaks up and renames groups that were formerly a part of the MSN division.

Kevin Johnson, co-president of the platforms and services division, announced the changes in an e-mail to his division. The group now overseen by Sinofsky -- the Windows and Windows Live Group -- is one of eight that now comprise the division, according to Microsoft.

The other groups are Windows Live platform group, led by Blake Irving, corporate vice president; the online business group, led by David Cole, senior vice president; the market expansion group, led by Will Poole, senior vice president; the core operating system division, led by Brian Valentine, senior vice president; the Windows client marketing group, led by Mike Sievert, corporate vice president; the developer and platform evangelism group, led by Sanjay Parthasarathy, corporate vice president; and the server and tools business group, led by Bob Muglia, senior vice president.

The management change comes only days after the company said it planned to delay the consumer launch of the new Windows until after this year's holiday shopping season (see "Update: Microsoft Delays Consumer Release of Vista to January 2007").

Sinofsky joined Microsoft in 1989 as a software design engineer and had been with the Office team since its formation in 1994, first serving as the director of program management for that group. He developed a reputation as a no-nonsense taskmaster during his time at the Office business by consistently meeting deadlines and rolling out new products on a regular schedule, company-watchers say.

The new Windows and Windows Live group includes the Windows engineering team as well as development for the Windows Live online services Microsoft launched in November. Also new are both the Windows Live platform group and the market expansion group, while Cole's online business group replaces the division that once was MSN, according to Microsoft.

The online business group includes advertising sales, business development and marketing for Live platforms, Windows Live and all of the MSN properties, including MSN.com, MSNTV and MSN Internet Access. Microsoft's MSN division has suffered from lack of growth and an identity crisis, especially after Microsoft announced its set of Web-based services under the Live brand in November.

Online business group leader Cole was formerly a top MSN executive alongside Yusuf Mehdi, who has also moved into a different role. Mehdi now serves as senior vice president and chief advertising strategist as part of the new management team of platforms and services. Cole plans to take a leave of absence from Microsoft in April and a new leader for the online business group will be announced at that time, Microsoft said.

Some MSN teams that had been working on services and capabilities for Microsoft's online offerings also fall under the Windows Live platform group. The market expansion group will focus on emerging markets and new designs, including the Origami ultramobile PC that Microsoft and hardware partners recently unveiled.

All of the other groups and their leaders remain the same, except for Sievert, who now reports directly to Johnson, Microsoft said.

In his e-mail, Johnson said he and group Co-President Jim Allchin worked out the changes together to prepare for Allchin's impending retirement at the end of the year. In addition to spurring growth and agility in the division, the changes also were made to advance Microsoft's Web-based services strategy, he said.

Microsoft has been under pressure to grow its revenue as its seen growth in its core businesses -- Windows and Office -- level off in recent years.

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