Microsoft CEO Reveals New Corporate Structure

CEO Steve Ballmer has shuffled the organizational deck at Microsoft, breaking down long-standing barriers within the company. Microsoft has been criticized for internal turf battles and slow-footed responses to changes in technology.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with a restart for Microsoft.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GREENE: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has shuffled the organizational deck at Microsoft, breaking down longstanding barriers within the company. As NPR's Steve Henn reports, the changes are sweeping; it doesn't mean they'll necessarily be effective.

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Microsoft was founded a generation ago with an audacious goal: Put a PC on every desk, and in every home. In the developed world, it succeeded. But the next 3 or 4 billion people who get connected are likely to do it on mobile phones.

David Johnson, at Forrester Research, says high-speed Internet connections and mobile devices have transformed computing and consumer expectations.

DAVID JOHNSON: It's a shift in the way people use technology in their lives and - both - between home and work. And those lines are blending.

HENN: And Microsoft has been left behind. In response, Ballmer announced a new mission: to create families of devices and services that work together seamlessly. And he unveiled a new corporate structure, which he said would make that happen.

ROB HELM: A re-organization, by itself, means nothing.

HENN: Rob Helm manages research at Directions on Microsoft, which - as you might guess - follows Microsoft closely.

HELM: Too often, the company has gotten blindsided by an emerging technology. And then, it hasn't been able to react quickly enough to respond, in part because of infighting in the company.

HENN: If Ballmer can end this infighting, Helm says the company has shot of retaining its lost glory. But the real test, he says, will be whether it can bring great, new products to market.

Steve Henn, NPR News, Silicon Valley.

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