Microsoft’s executive leadership is being reorganized, reflecting the Redmond, Wash., technology giant’s continual evolution from a maker of packaged software products to a provider of artificial intelligence technologies and cloud computing services. In an email to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella outlined how the company is being arranged into three distinct engineering groups in the months ahead, namely Experiences & Devices, Cloud + AI Platform and AI + Research.
“This reorganization clearly outlines Microsoft’s priorities—cloud, coupled with AI, and an improved experience for users of Microsoft’s applications,” Ed Anderson, research vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, told eWEEK. “In the past, Windows was always the focus. This move reiterates the cloud-first priority that Microsoft has been stating for some time.”
Under the reorganization, many company leaders will see their responsibilities change, with at least one influential executive taking his leave.
Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group (WDG), is preparing for his “next chapter outside Microsoft,” Nadella announced. “Over the past several years, Terry and the WDG team transformed Windows to create a secure, always up-to-date, modern OS. His strong contributions to Microsoft over 21 years from leading Exchange to leading Windows 10 leave a real legacy.”
Myerson will remain at Microsoft during the months-long transition period. In a LinkedIn post that offered few clues as to his next career move, Myerson revealed that he is taking a break and “learning more about genomics and robotics.”
Rajesh Jha, executive vice president of Microsoft Office, will lead the Experiences & Devices unit, which is home to Windows. Joe Belfiore will continue to lead the Windows group, while Panos Panay will take on the role of chief product officer for Devices. The Enterprise Mobility and Management and New Experiences and Technology groups will continue to be run by Brad Anderson and Kudo Tsunoda, respectively.
Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise, will now lead the Cloud + AI Platform business. Within this engineering team, Jason Zander will serve as executive vice president of Azure. AI Perception & Mixed Reality, one of two new groups, will be headed by Alex Kipman. Eric Boyd is taking the reins of AI Cognitive Services & Platform, another new faction under Guthrie’s purview.
Finally, Harry Shum will continue to serve in his role as executive vice president of Microsoft’s AI + Research unit. Ensuring that Microsoft’s AI efforts are undertaken in a responsible manner, the company’s internal AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER) Committee, established by Shum and Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, will shape policies regarding the potent technology at the company.
“AETHER will ensure our AI platform and experience efforts are deeply grounded within Microsoft’s core values and principles and benefit the broader society,” stated Nadella. Additionally, Microsoft is tackling bias in AI systems and instituting new controls in the face of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), tough new data privacy laws affecting organizations doing business in Europe.