Microsoft Names New Office President, Details Mobile, Entertainment Reorg

Microsoft names presidents to its Microsoft Office Division, Mobile Communications Business and Interactive Entertainment Business. That refreshes the executive lineup after this year's shakeups.

Microsoft has named three new presidents to key divisions within the company, replacing those departed in a series of executive shakeups earlier this year. Along with naming those new presidents, Microsoft also took steps to restructure those divisions.

Within the new paradigm, Kurt DelBene is now president of the Microsoft Office Division. Andy Lees will remain in the top spot of Mobile Communications Business, along with Don Mattrick at the head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business-formalizing roles originally established back in May. All three will report directly to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft's mobile and interactive-entertainment projects were previously grouped under the umbrella of the Entertainment & Devices Division, headed by Robbie Bach. By splitting responsibilities for mobile and entertainment to Lees and Mattrick, respectively, Microsoft seems intent on giving those product lines new focus-an unsurprising move, given how the upcoming Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Kinect are considered vital parts of the company's overall strategy.

"Today's promotions underscore the strength of Microsoft's collective leadership team and set us up well to execute against a powerful lineup of products this fall," Ballmer wrote in an Oct. 1 statement. "Not only is the team ready to capitalize on major momentum with our existing products like Office, SharePoint and Halo: Reach, but they are simultaneously bringing entirely new experiences to market with Windows Phone 7 and Kinect for Xbox 360."

DelBene recently headed the Microsoft Business Division's engineering and development teams, making his ascension a logical move. As president of the Microsoft Office Division, his primary tasks will involve not only preserving the momentum behind the recently launched Office 2010, but also increasing Microsoft's footprint in the cloud with products such as Office Web Apps.

However, not all of Microsoft's enterprise-related groups will report to him; Kirill Tatarinov will "continue overseeing Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) and will report to Steve Ballmer," according to Microsoft. "MBS develops and markets the line of Microsoft Dynamics products that manage financial, customer relationship and supply chain management functions (ERP and CRM) for organizations of all sizes." Indeed, DelBene's responsibilities seem limited to the Microsoft Office Division, which hints that Microsoft may be taking a more decentralized approach to its business initiatives.

Lees will likely have a considerable load on his shoulders as president of the Mobile Communications Business, as that role involves shepherding Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 7 into the marketplace. Microsoft is betting that the smartphone platform will help it reverse several quarters' worth of market share declines in the face of fierce competition from the likes of the Apple iPhone and Google Android.

Likewise, Mattrick is stepping into his role as president of Interactive Entertainment Business just as that division prepares to launch the Kinect hands-free controller for the Xbox 360. Microsoft expects that device to add to the lifespan of the Xbox 360 platform. According to Microsoft, Mattrick will also oversee Xbox Live, Zune Music and Video, and Mediaroom, in addition to PC and mobile interactive entertainment.

Microsoft has undergone a few rounds of executive decimation in 2010. On Sept. 9, the company announced that Stephen Elop would step down to take the CEO reins at Nokia. Although Microsoft and Nokia collaborate on some projects, including the porting of mobile versions of Office onto the latter's smartphones, the two companies' respective smartphone platforms will go head-to-head this fall.

And in May, Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices (E&D) Division underwent a massive shakeup, with the company announcing the departures of Bach, the unit's president, and J Allard, its senior vice president of Design and Development. Bach is slated to retire by the end of this year. Although Microsoft remained tight-lipped about the reason behind those departures, it is widely speculated that the company's struggles in the smartphone arena-including the ignoble death of its Kin social-networking phones-was one of the prime motivators.

In the wake of those executive departures, Ballmer assumed much tighter command-and-control over the Business and E&D divisions, appointing interim executives who reported directly to him. Given his day-to-day role as CEO, however, it was inevitable that lasting presidents would be appointed sooner rather than later.