Microsoft names Rick Belluzzo as new president, COO

Microsoft Corp. said today that chief operating officer Bob Herbold was retiring and that industry veteran Rick Belluzzo, a former CEO of Silicon Graphics Inc., would be his successor.

In an announcement today, Microsoft said that Herbold, 58, will stay on with the company part-time as a liaison to industry, government and customers. Herbold joined the company six-and-a-half years ago after leaving Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble Co., where he had worked for 26 years (see story).

Belluzzo, 47, who has also been named as the company's president, came to Microsoft in late 1999 and served as a vice president of the personal services and devices group and the company's consumer group.

At Silicon Graphics, Belluzzo was responsible for helping the Mountain View, Calif.-based company plan for a return to growth and profitability (see story). Before then, he was an executive vice president of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s printer business, holding various jobs in his 23 years at that company.

In its announcement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Belluzzo "is stepping up to an even more crucial role in Microsoft's leadership team. He has the proven ability to create effective organizations, manage a diverse set of products and businesses and make the tough decisions that will keep Microsoft moving forward on our priorities."

Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., said he was surprised to hear of Herbold's retirement because the executive seemed very engaged in the operations of the company.

Belluzzo "will face some significant challenges," Kusnetzky said. He noted that Microsoft's business model for selling its Windows operating system software and Office product suites -- and their regularly scheduled updates -- faces problems as users feel less pressure to continuously upgrade.

"Obviously his successes with content and Web sites will give him quite a bit of experience in that area," he said.

In his new posts, Belluzzo will be responsible for guiding Microsoft's business strategy and direct business operations, sales, marketing and business development as non-PC related businesses.

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