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Microsoft reshuffles Windows exec deck

Less than two months after the launch of Windows XP, the software giant is making executive changes in its flagship operating system unit.

Less than two months after the launch of its new Windows XP operating system, Microsoft has reshuffled a few high-ranking executives in its flagship Windows unit.

The Gatekeeper: Windows XP The reordering at the division also affects the software giant's wireless-software group. Rogers Weed, who handled marketing for that group, replaces John Frederiksen, a top executive who led the marketing effort for Windows XP.

Frederiksen said his new role at Microsoft has not been officially announced and declined to reveal what it might be.

"I have been in Windows for the past four years and am at home on paternity leave with a new baby," said Frederiksen. "I am going to be switching jobs when I return in January."

Microsoft said the reshuffling was nothing unusual and that many executives try new jobs after a major product or service that they oversaw finally reaches the market. But the move comes at a time when there are growing rumblings from analysts and research firms that sales of Windows XP are not meeting expectations.

On Wednesday, market researcher NPD Intelect said Microsoft's splashiest launch ever of an operating system has failed to generate enough retail sales to push past those of its predecessor, Windows 98. However, other analysts noted that comparisons to previous operating system sales can be deceptive because retail sales are considered "gravy" to the meatier and more important client license sales, which have been robust.

Despite the rumblings from analysts, Microsoft maintains that Windows XP was the best-selling operating system ever in the first two months of availability and has exceeded all expectations.

"While there is a small percentage of Windows users that are able to upgrade to Windows XP, retailers have reported better-than-expected sales since launch in October," Jim Cullinan, Microsoft's Windows XP lead product manager, said on Wednesday.

Microsoft late last month revamped management responsibilities within its MSN Web site network, giving Senior Vice President David Cole responsibility for Microsoft's online arm in a new Personal Services Group formed within the company. Cole now reports directly to CEO Steve Ballmer. He previously reported to Group Vice President Bob Muglia, who will work in the Windows group with Group Vice President Jim Allchin.

In April, Brad Chase, a longtime Microsoft executive, stepped down after helping the software giant make an imprint on the Web with the MSN Internet portal. At the time, Microsoft said Chase would remain with the company, but his exact role was yet to be determined.

Early this year, Jim Ewel, who handled the product marketing of Windows 2000 Server, quit the company after 12 years. The move was interpreted by some as a reflection on the company's unhappiness with how Windows 2000 had been marketed. At the time, Ewel was laboring under circumstances similar to Frederiksen, as many industry watchers believed the sales of Windows 2000 were not as robust as expected.