Microsoft's Office chief out after musical chairs reorg

Kurt DelBene, who pushed Office 365, will retire, says CEO Steve Ballmer

Text about this image
Kurt DelBene, 53, and formerly the top Office executive, will retire, apparently because he not appointed head of one of the four new engineering groups. (Image: Microsoft.)

Kurt DelBene, the former head of Microsoft's Office division, will retire, apparently one of the executive casualties of the company's reorganization announced today.

"As part of these changes, Kurt DelBene will be retiring from Microsoft," wrote CEO Steve Ballmer in a memo to employees early Thursday. "Kurt has been a huge part of our success in evolving Office to be a great cloud service, and is a key member of my leadership team."

DelBene, a 21-year veteran of the Redmond, Wash. developer, led Office, the biggest revenue contributor to the firm's Business Division, which in turn accounted for more sales than any other group in nine of the last 10 quarters.

During the first quarter of 2013, the last reported, the Business Division generated 31% of the company's total, well above the second-place Windows Division, which accounted for 28%.

Business Division revenue in Q1 was $6.3 billion.

In the reorganization Ballmer debuted today, Office was shifted to Applications and Services, one of four new engineering groups. Applications and Services will be headed by Qi Lu, and include not only Office, but also the Bing, Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, Skype, and Yammer lines. Before today, Lu ran the Bing search service, its popular portal and its online advertising programs.

Yesterday, Rob Helm, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, predicted DelBene would be left standing when the game of musical chairs ended.

"Kurt's been absolutely critical to Office 365," Helm said then, talking about Microsoft's shift to a subscription revenue model for the productivity suite. "But it may be that individuals [like DelBene] will leave."

Today, Helm praised DelBene.

"On Kurt DelBene's corporate headstone, it ought to read something like 'He moved beyond Office,'" Helm said in an email. "His groups built out the server software and cloud businesses that reduced the company's dependence on Office, but still leveraged it."

No one need weep for DelBene, however: According to BusinessWeek, his 2012 compensation totaled $7.9 million.

Ballmer also said that Rick Rashid, who had led Microsoft Research, is moving to a new job in the Operating System Engineering Group to "[drive] core OS innovation."

Eric Rudder will assume responsibility for Microsoft's research team, which along with Trustworthy Computing -- the firm's security arm -- and several smaller units, will compose the Advanced Strategy and Research Group. Rudder was formerly the company's chief technology strategist, a position he took when Craig Mundie announced last year that he would retire at the end of 2014.

This article, Microsoft's Office chief out after musical chairs reorg, was originally published at

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is

See more by Gregg Keizer on

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon