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Microsoft shuffles enterprise group

The software giant announces a reorganization for its division focusing on back-end business systems, a move analysts see as a routine step to clarify business strategy.

Microsoft announced on Monday a reorganization of its divisions that deal with servers and other back-end business systems, a move analysts characterized as a routine step to clarify the company's business strategy.

The changes occur within the Platforms Group, one of the main branches of Microsoft's business hierarchy. Three units within that group--Developer and Platform Evangelism, Windows Server System, and Enterprise Storage and Management--will be combined under the Servers and Tools division. Senior Vice President Eric Rudder, formerly head of the Developer and Platform Evangelism unit, will lead the new entity.

Rudder has been one of Microsoft's leading sermonizers for the company's .Net Web services strategy.

The Servers and Tools unit becomes one of three main branches under the Platform Group, alongside Mobile and Embedded Devices, which deals with non-PC devices, and Windows Client, which focuses on PCs.

Senior Vice President Paul Flessner, who had been leading the Server business, will now be in charge of the Exchange, SQL and eBusiness divisions, reporting to Rudder. Bob Muglia will continue to oversee Storage and Management, also reporting to Rudder.

Microsoft said in a statement that the changes are intended to help the company take better advantage of complementary business technologies. "Aligning these organizations under a single management structure will create synergy in product development, enabling more centralized focus in business and marketing functions," according to the statement.

Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg said the reorganization seems to be a common-sense effort by Microsoft to make a more comprehensive pitch to business customers.

"This looks like par for the course, nothing that leaps out as a major change in policy," Gartenberg said. "Microsoft is trying to consolidate the back-end software into one cohesive message...and also connect things on the client side, like Windows Messenger. They want to articulate the message there's an entire platform approach here."

Microsoft periodically tweaks its business structure, most recently shaking up its sales division.

Matt Rosoff, an analyst with research firm Directions on Microsoft, characterized the reorganization as more of a personnel move meant to boost rising star Rudder. "Eric Rudder is somewhat of an unknown quantity," Rosoff said. "He's not somebody who has shipped a whole lot of product on time or met a whole lot of revenue goals...But he must have been doing something right over the last year from the executives' perspective."