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Microsoft merges Exchange, corporate IM units

Sets up new "unified communications" unit. Separately, it names finance chiefs for divisions created in reorg last year.

Microsoft said on Monday that it is combining its Exchange e-mail server unit with the group that handles corporate instant messaging, the latest in a series of organizational changes at the world's largest software maker.

The company is combining the Exchange unit with the Real-Time Collaborations (RTC) unit into a new Unified Communications Group. The move will bring together Exchange--Microsoft's server software for managing corporate e-mail, scheduling and contacts--and the RTC unit's products. Those include Live Communications Server, which lets workers see a colleague's IM status and communicate instantly via text or voice.

The setting-up of a unified communications unit does not reflect an immediate decision to merge the two former units' products into a single server software line, Microsoft said.

"There will be no changes to the timing or feature sets for the next generation of products currently under development," it said in a statement.

However, in a question-and-answer page posted to Microsoft's press Web site, Anoop Gupta, who heads the Unified Communications Group, said that the move was aimed at breaking down the divisions between the corporate messaging products.

"Unified Communications is about breaking down today's silo'ed communications experiences and instead providing rich communication capabilities that allow people, teams, organizations to communicate simply and effectively while integrating seamlessly with business applications and processes," Gupta said.

A planned Exchange 12 update is currently in beta testing, with a final release expected either late this year or early next year.

Gupta, whose leadership of the combined unit was also announced Monday, used to head the RTC unit. Under the changes, Exchange chief Dave Thompson will continue to direct that product, but will report to Gupta. Thompson had reported to Paul Flessner, a senior vice president in the server and tools business.

Separately, Microsoft named finance chiefs for each of the three divisions created from seven business units during a reorganization last September.

Peter Klein, previously the chief financial officer for Microsoft's Server and Tools business, was named CFO of the Microsoft Business Division, reporting to Jeff Raikes. He will also serve as business group finance chief for Information Worker products. Brian Lee, formerly tapped for finance duties at the Home and Entertainment unit, will take over responsibilities for the overall Entertainment and Devices division. Finally, Brent Callinicos will become CFO for the Platforms and Services division, reporting to Kevin Johnson. Callinicos was previously the corporate vice president for Microsoft's overall licensing unit, and whoever takes over that task will report to Callinicos, Microsoft said.