Microsoft 'a couple of weeks away' from naming new search chief

Microsoft 'a couple of weeks away' from naming new search chief

Summary: Here's the official internal memo from Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's president of platforms and services, regarding last week's resignation of Chris Payne, the Windows Live search chief. Microsoft is still a couple of weeks away from announcing its new team who will take on Microsoft's less-than-successful search business.

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Here's the official internal memo from Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's president of platforms and services, regarding last week's resignation of Chris Payne, the Windows Live search chief.

Johnson told the Softies that Microsoft is still a couple of weeks away from naming Payne's successor. Rumors are still swirling as to who might take on his role and other management positions on the search side of the house.

Meanwhile, at the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) summit in Seattle this week, one attendee asked Chairman Bill Gates about Microsoft's intentions regarding getting its search house in order, sources said.

Gates told the questioner, according to sources, that Microsoft admittedly has lost a couple of points of search-query marketshare, but still remains confident that there is "a lot we can do" on the mash-up, search relevance, answers and commerce fronts, to turn the situation around.

"We are putting lots of brilliant, brilliant people on search," Gates is said to have told the MVP audience. "We will surprise people in terms of what we will be able to do."

Until that time, here's the Johnson memo on Payne that went to the Microsoft troops over the past weekend:

"March 9, 2007

"The online services business is crucial to our company’s future success and execution on our Software + Services vision. We have built some of the highest scale services on the planet, and continue to serve almost a half billion customers each month through MSN and Windows Live services. We should be proud of the progress we have made, while recognizing that we aspire to do much more as the company amplifies the importance of services.

"Christopher Payne has decided to leave Microsoft to start his own company. Christopher has been a tireless leader of our Search R&D efforts over the last 4 years. In that period, we’ve built a world-class search engine and a fantastic development team focused on this key business and product area for Microsoft. I thank Christopher for his leadership in this area, and wish him well in his future endeavors.

"Steven Sinofsky and I are working on a plan for Christopher’s successor, which will be announced within the next couple of weeks. I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Christopher’s direct reports and we talked about our plans and commitment to this important area.

"I am confident in all of you, and know that we won’t miss a beat on our execution and focus on building great products and services for our customers. As we lay the foundation going into FY08, the PSD leadership team and I are committed to accelerating our progress in the online services business. We need to drive hard on search, build our services platform to support users around the world, and deliver compelling user experiences.

"I appreciate your continued focus on the upcoming milestones and deliverables in our current search plan. Thank you for your hard work and contributions to our customers, partners, and Microsoft.

"Regards, Kevin"

Topic: Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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