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Microsoft names Belluzzo as group vice president

The software giant picks former Silicon Graphics chief executive Richard Belluzzo to run its interactive operations unit.

Microsoft has chosen former Silicon Graphics chief executive Richard Belluzzo to run its interactive operations unit.

As previously reported, Microsoft this morning announced that Belluzzo has joined the company as group vice president for its Consumer and Commerce Group (CCG), which includes MSN and WebTV.

Microsoft president Steve Ballmer also announced that Brad Chase and Jon DeVaan have been promoted to senior vice president. Chase and DeVaan were vice presidents at the Redmond, Washington-based software maker.

Belluzzo will report directly to Ballmer, the company said in a statement. Reporting to Belluzzo will be Chase; DeVaan; Moshe Lichtman, who head's CCG's international efforts; Rich Barton, who manages the Expedia travel service; and Lewis Levin, who heads Internet bill payment, the company said.

Ballmer said that Belluzzo's appointment was not a precursor to creating a separate "tracking stock" for its Internet unit. The software giant was rumored this to summer to be considering spinning off its Internet business, something that other firms have done.

Addressing recent speculation about Microsoft offering free or discounted Internet access via MSN, DeVaan said: "We will be aggressively growing that business, and when we have unique promotional offers, we'll...tell you then."

Ballmer added that the company will continue to be aggressive in striking PC-rebate plans with brick-and-mortar retailers, such as its deal with Staples.

Microsoft also has a deal with Costco that offers discounted subscriptions to MSN Internet Access. DeVaan added that other such deals are "entirely possible."

Ballmer added that the TV will play an increasingly important role in the company's Internet strategy.

"We are very confident with Brad and Jon, and now Rick, at the helm of the business that we will move forward to transform the consumer experience and the small business experience [on the Internet]," Ballmer said.

Speculation mounted in the past week that Belluzzo would join Microsoft's online efforts. On August 23, SGI announced that Belluzzo was resigning as CEO to join a company that wasn't a competitor. The company declined to comment further.

In other news, Ben Slivka, a general manager in Microsoft's Consumer and Commerce Group, has departed to become director of information technology at Amazon.com, the companies confirmed yesterday.