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Microsoft Creates Division to Devise, Implement Web Strategy

March 31, 2000|STANLEY HOLMES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SEATTLE — Microsoft Corp., in a reorganization aimed at bolstering its growing online focus, named longtime No. 3 executive and key technical strategist Paul Maritz to head up a new division built around the Internet, Windows software and new devices.

The Redmond-based software giant, known for abruptly changing its management and redefining product divisions to reflect fast-paced business and technology trends, announced the management reorganization on its Web site Thursday.

Maritz, who has been involved in nearly every major strategic initiative launched by Microsoft, will head the company's attempt to shift its dominance on the PC desktop to the more competitive Internet market.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has said this initiative is even more crucial to the company's future than its bruising battle with Netscape Communications to dominate the Internet browser market.

The company's intent is to create the "glue" for the Internet that allows information such as work schedules, health records, doctors' appointments and flight times to be coordinated with employers, clients and family automatically over the Net.

Gates first acknowledged the latest initiative when he announced in January that President Steve Ballmer would succeed him as chief executive of the world's largest software company. But neither Gates nor Ballmer offered many details.

"They really are just trying to figure out what it is going to be," said Rob Enderle, a longtime Microsoft watcher and analyst for Giga Information Group.

In what Microsoft called a "few internal changes," Maritz will co-head the group with Jim Allchin, Microsoft's senior Windows executive and architect of the recently released Windows 2000.

The two senior executives will be the key leaders responsible for devising and executing the company's new Internet strategy--one that the company will disclose in more detail at its Forum 2000 meeting in early May.

Maritz, who has been in charge of the group that handles relations with outside software developers, will be responsible for overall strategy, product planning and business development. Allchin, who will still have overall management of Windows, also will be responsible for the development of the software for the expanded platform. Both men will report to Ballmer.

Maritz's No. 2, David Vaskevitch, will assume a new role of enlarging Microsoft's presence in the fast-expanding world of e-commerce.

Under Ballmer, Microsoft is trying to align its products more closely with its customers.

Maritz, a 14-year Microsoft veteran, was rumored to be itching to retire, having amassed a fortune estimated at $250 million working for the company.

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