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More Moves at Microsoft

The revolving door in Redmond is spinning again.

This time, two top executives have left the company and a third will do so in a few months. They are:

  • G. Michael Sievert, formerly corporate VP for Windows Product Marketing
  • Steven Berkowitz, senior VP in the Online Services group
  • Pieter Knook, formerly senior VP in the Mobile Communications Business
Sievert, previously executive vice president and chief marketing officer at AT&T Wireless Services Inc., had been with Microsoft since 2005. As the executive responsible for promoting Windows Vista, he undoubtedly took some heat over public perceptions of Microsoft's latest operating system as slow, bug-plagued and incompatible with other applications (although Microsoft also says it sold more than 100 million Vista licenses in the product's first year). In early February, about 10 days before Microsoft announced Sievert's exit, CEO Steve Ballmer told analysts that the company needs to improve its Vista marketing efforts.

In announcing Sievert's departure, Microsoft said only that he left "to pursue new endeavors"; the technology-news site CNET.com quoted Sievert as saying he plans to start his own company. Microsoft promoted Brad Brooks, previously general manager for Windows Product Marketing, to replace Sievert.

Mike Sievert (top left) and Pieter Knook (bottom right) have moved on to other pursuits. Steve Berkowitz (top right) will step down in August.

Berkowitz, formerly CEO of search-engine company Ask.com, joined Microsoft just two years ago to oversee marketing, sales and business development for the company's struggling online services division. Neither Berkowitz nor Microsoft revealed the reason for his departure. He'll remain onboard through August to help with the division's restructuring, which includes promotions for two Microsoft insiders: Satya Nadella becomes senior vice president of the Search, Portals & Advertising Group and Bill Veghte becomes senior vice president of the Online Services & Windows Business Group.

Microsoft said the changes -- among more than a dozen moves announced in February -- are unrelated to the company's recent bid to buy search-engine competitor Yahoo! Inc. But analysts have noted that the takeover effort indicates that Microsoft's leaders know their own search strategy is seriously flawed.

Rumors that Sievert and Berkowitz were headed for the door had circulated widely before the announcements, but Knook's departure took many by surprise.

The 18-year Microsoft veteran left in February to take the newly created position of director of Internet services at U.K.-based Vodafone Group plc, the global mobile-

telecom company. While at Microsoft, Knook held jobs ranging from general manager of enterprise marketing to president of Microsoft Asia; the company credited him for making Windows Mobile one of its fastest-growing business units. His replacement: Andy Lees, previously corporate vice president of the Server & Tools Marketing and Solutions Group.

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