Microsoft Eyes Company Reorganisation

Microsoft Eyes Company Reorganisation

Windows Wunderkind Brad Silverberg could be returning to campus in a company reorganisation plan being kicked around by top Microsoft executives.

After the reorganisation, Microsoft will be pieced into four groups -- consumer, corporate, software development, and knowledge workers. Reportedly, Silverberg has been asked to head the consumer-oriented group.

The timing of the reorganisation is seen as a Microsoft effort to give the company a better focus on customers and rein in its widely scattered new product development teams. Company President Steve Ballmer is reportedly driving this latest round of changes.

"[Ballmer] discovered that people did kind of know what customers wanted, [but] that just wasn't making it into their work," said Rob Enderle, a vice president at the Giga Information Group. "He was getting tired of getting yelled at by their big customers."

Under the reorganisation, the knowledge-workers group will be focusing on small businesses, home-office workers, and telecommuters, and the developers group will woo Java and Internet programmers. The corporate group will include Windows 2000 and other server technologies.

Microsoft representatives denied that the reshuffling is related to the U.S. Department of Justice's ongoing antitrust trial against the software giant, pointing out that the company rethinks its organisation on a roughly annual basis.

"The driving force is the determination at Microsoft that it will most likely get run over like a skunk on the highway by Judge [Thomas Penfield] Jackson," said Daniel Morgan, a consultant at EXE Solutions, in Seattle. "The reorganisation is intended to make it harder to split the company on product lines, which is what many expect the Justice Department to request."

Conventional wisdom has it that if the government were to break up Microsoft, as it did with AT&T and Standard Oil, the result would be a handful of small entities -- including an OS company, a desktop applications company, a tools company, etc. Breaking up Microsoft has always been considered a remote possibility at best, but that option has gained credibility in recent weeks as Microsoft stumbled badly in court.

However, under the reported new company structure, Windows would fall under both the consumer and corporate categories, making a break-up more difficult.

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