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Microsoft adds two to its board

The software giant says it will add two new board members to its current roster of eight, the company's effort to strengthen its corporate governance.

Microsoft said Thursday that it will expand its board of directors in order to strengthen its corporate governance.

The company said it will increase its board to 10 members from eight. Microsoft said the board had nominated unanimously BMW Chairman Helmut Panke, 57, and former AT&T Vice Chairman Charles H. Noski, 51. The board has also nominated for re-election the eight directors who are currently serving, Microsoft said.

Panke is Microsoft's first board member from outside the United States. "Helmut will bring a valuable global perspective to our board," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said in a statement. "His experience as chairman of one of Europe's most successful companies will be invaluable."

Microsoft's shareholders will vote on election of the two new board members at the company?s annual meeting in November.

Industry watchers observed that it is unlikely Microsoft made the move based on the recent spate of accounting scandals in corporate America. Jeff Parker, president of Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based analyst firm, said Microsoft's "squeaky clean" bookkeeping record and sound financial standing insulate the software maker from questions regarding misleading accounting practices.

"Microsoft's overwhelming revenues make it different from the rest of Wall Street," Parker said. "It's a nice step, but this is a company that is a lot different from Enron. There's no need to spin earnings numbers at Microsoft."

Other Microsoft directors include Gates; Steve Ballmer, Microsoft?s CEO; James I. Cash Jr., former James E. Robison professor, Harvard Business School; Raymond V. Gilmartin, chief executive officer, Merck; David Marquardt, general partner, August Capital; Ann McLaughlin Korologos, chairman emeritus, The Aspen Institute and senior adviser, Benedetto, Gartland; William G. Reed Jr., former chairman, Simpson Investment; and Jon Shirley, former chief operating officer of Microsoft.

CNET News.com's Matt Hines contributed to this report.