Microsoft shakes up its Entertainment and Devices unit

Microsoft shakes up its Entertainment and Devices unit

Summary: Microsoft has made some major organizational changes to its Entertainment and Devices unit -- the part of the company responsible for its mobile, Zune, Media Center and Mediaroom IPTV products.

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Microsoft has made some major organizational changes to its Entertainment and Devices unit -- the part of the company responsible for its mobile, Zune, Media Center and Mediaroom IPTV products.

Earlier this week, Microsoft reorg'd the TV, Video and Media (TVM) group, which was headed by Corporate Vice President Enrique Rodriguez. Rodriguez has left the company ("decided to pursue other interests"). Rodriguez's core teams -- Zune software/services, Mediaroom IPTV, Media Center -- have been moved to Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB), which is also part of Entertainment and Devices. IEB is the unit in charge of Xbox, Games for Windows and Microsoft Game Studios.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the move:

"As a natural evolution of the Interactive Entertainment Business, our consumer products and experiences focused on games, movies, TV and music will move into IEB, led by SVP Don Mattrick. In addition, we've formed a new centralized E&D services infrastructure team, which will act as a combined resource across the division. Finally, Enrique Rodriguez has decided to move on from his leadership position running the TV, video and music business and is evaluating his next career opportunity. The TVM first party business, Zune and Windows Medica Center will move to IEB, and Mediaroom, the TV platform businesss, will become a standalone group within E&D, reporting directly to (E&D) President Robbie Bach."

It was just a year ago that Microsoft execs tinkered with the structure of E&D, splitting the Zune team in two. The software and services part of Zune was moved under Rodriguez. The hardware team was shipped off to Tom Gibbons, the Corporate Vice President in charge of Mobile Device Strategy and Commercialization -- the group that interfaces directly with phone OEMs.

So what happens to Windows Mobile in all of this? For now, it's staying in Entertainment and Devices. But there is a rumor on the anonymous Mini Microsoft blog that Mobile could be moved under President Steven Sinofsky. Sinofsky currently runs development and business strategy for Windows, Internet Explorer and Windows Live. I asked Microsoft officials for comment on the Sinofsky rumor and they had none, given Microsoft typically doesn't comment on rumors and speculation. (I'm kind of doubtful about the veracity of the Sinofsky piece, but stranger things have happened....)

Andrew Lees, Senior vice president of Microsoft's Mobile Communication Business, has been leading marketing and development for Windows Mobile software and Live mobile services since 2008. No word as to whether this week's reorg affected Lees and his organization.

The shake-up in Entertainment and Devices comes at a time when Microsoft is fending off criticism from all corners regarding its Windows Mobile product line. The company is expected to talk about the next major version of Windows Mobile, Windows Mobile 7, and possibly show off prototype Windows Mobile 7 phones at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona in mid-February. Microsoft also is on tap to discuss new development tools and strategies for Windows Mobile at the Mix 2010 conference in mid-March.

There have been rumors that Microsoft also might show off the long-rumored Pink phones/services at the Mobile World Congress show. Pink is the codename for both the set of premium mobile services and one or more Windows Mobile phones aimed at the teen/twenty-something market. Both the Pink phones and forthcoming Windows Mobile 7 phones are expected to begin shipping this year, with Windows Mobile 7 phones expected in the last quarter of 2010.

Microsoft officials won't comment officially on what Pink is or when Windows Mobile 7 will be released.

Topics: Mobility, CXO, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Software, Wi-Fi, Windows

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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23 comments
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  • the real 'shakeup' is when

    Ballmer is gone and M$ GPLeds its code.
    Linux Geek
  • Shuffling deck chairs on Titanic? (nt)

    nt
    Economister
    • *Yawn*

      I thought you better then that?
      John Zern
  • If Windows Mobile moves to Sinoksky...

    expect that WM will share some code base with current Windows NT implementations to ease development. I could see a point, not too far into the future, where Windows Mobile and Windows Client will share enough code base that at least Silverlight and .Net development will support cross-platform deployment very easily, using Expression tools. In effect, Windows Mobile will be the ARM version of Windows Client that everybody says that Microsoft should've made (with certain limitations due to the hardware form factor). There's a possibility that this development could pave the way for Windows Mobile to be installed on a new class of ARM-powered portable computers - not just phones - and Microsoft seems to want to target a wide range of form factors and platforms this year. With Silverlight support, applications will be able to be ported over with little to no effort.

    What Windows Mobile will share with Windows Client will be [some of] the underlying codebase and shared API's (possibly including DirectX technologies like DXVA, D2D, and D3D), but what it won't share is the UI (it won't be Aero) - it'll be more device-centric and won't have the whole desktop/folder/files metaphor. I would liken data storage to be more akin to a database concept, similar to how Blackberrys store user data into different databases on the system and the user doesn't have any exposure to the base file system, but would make data access easier for developers. I would imagine that Microsoft would leverage SQL Server data storage technologies that they introduced in 2008, so that developers could use their experience with web and server application development to deliver applications that could run locally, syncronize with remote data sources, or just run purely online.

    Using Windows Mobile as a launchpad would also give Microsoft a good testbed to adapt those technologies back into the standard Windows Client codebase (such as SQL storage, which could allow them to go back to a variation of WinFS as a plausible storage system for desktop data).

    That's my prediction anyway.
    Joe_Raby
    • not too far into the future

      you mean by 2011 or 2012? by that time there is no hardware maker left
      waiting for winmo.
      bannedfromzdnetagain
  • Yeah, it'??s all Enrique Rodriguez's fault

    What is the company going to say; ?We've lost
    boatloads of money on entertainment and devices
    because that's not what this company does,
    that's not our core strength, and although that
    constitutes a big market of the future, we
    simply don?t have the specialization to make
    money in it.??

    Or, ?Ballmer doesn't know what he's doing, he's
    been consistently wrong on strategy all this
    time, and his own statements and interviews
    floating around on YouTube demonstrate it, are
    personally and professionally embarrassing to
    himself, and the company that inexplicably
    continues to employ him??

    No, instead Enrique Rodriguez needs to be
    theatrically shown the door, to ?pursue other
    interests.?

    ...

    Excerpts from a BusinessWeek interview with
    Apple CEO Steve Jobs, October 12, 2004:

    Steve Jobs: Apple had a monopoly on the
    graphical user interface for almost 10 years.
    That's a long time. And how are monopolies
    lost? Think about it. Some very good product
    people invent some very good products, and the
    company achieves a monopoly. But after that,
    the product people aren't the ones that drive
    the company forward anymore. It's the marketing
    guys or the ones who expand the business into
    Latin America or whatever. Because what's the
    point of focusing on making the product even
    better when the only company you can take
    business from is yourself? So a different group
    of people start to move up. And who usually
    ends up running the show? The sales guy... Then
    one day, the monopoly expires for whatever
    reason. But by then the best product people
    have left, or they're no longer listened to.
    And so the company goes through this tumultuous
    time, and it either survives or it doesn't.

    BusinessWeek: Is this common in the industry?
    Steve Jobs: Look at Microsoft - who's running
    Microsoft?

    BusinessWeek: Steve Ballmer.
    Steve Jobs: Right, the sales guy. Case closed.
    HollywoodDog
    • That's a cute story.

      It really is, but it's all too easy.

      First you see who is running said company, then you work you're story to lead to that end point.

      If the CeO was the CFO, the article wiuld have read differently, then ended like this:

      BusinessWeek: Is this common in the industry?
      Steve Jobs: Look at Microsoft - who's running
      Microsoft?

      BusinessWeek: The [CFO].
      Steve Jobs: Right, the money guy. Case closed.

      See, way, [b][i]way[/i][/b] too easy.
      John Zern
  • RE: Microsoft shakes up its Entertainment and Devices unit

    Interesting, I was just looking at the Insider Trading on Moneycentral for MSFT ans wondering why it appeared like Bach was selling so much. I realize folks sell all the time to diversify, buy a house etc etc, but it seems like he sold off an awful bit of stock.
    http://moneycentral.msn.com/investor/invsub/insider/trans.asp?Symbol=MSFT
    majg
    • It's a bad time to be in stocks

      The bailout and stimulus bump has run its course.
      While stocks have soared over the last year,
      professionals expect them to decline. I've moved
      out of stocks in recent weeks. I'm now 2/3 in
      bonds.
      HollywoodDog
    • bach

      bach is moron, at least he talks like one. well, maybe he seems to be not
      totally clueless, selling stock as long as he can.
      bannedfromzdnetagain
  • Innovating Media Center

    I think Internet TV on Windows 7 Media Center is great. However, it could use some improvements. Even though the interface is aesthetically pleasing, it is not as efficient as it could be. I think Windows Media Center should have a Quckplay feature (similar to what is found in the Zune software). Users should be able subscribe to shows, and place the shows they watch repeatedly (as well as music and other assets) in the Quckplay section. Windows Media Player should remember where you left off while watching a show, when you prematurely exit the show - like it does with regular TV shows. Internet TV should sport within itself, a search section to quckly find shows.

    In addition to the above, MS should be able to persuade content providers (from the smallest to the largest) to get on the platform, and enjoy ad and subscription revenue sharing on a very engaging platform. (I think it would also be great, if Media Center provided the option to content providers, for users to record shows to their PCs. If users watch a show repeatedly, the content providers could still possibly earn revenue from ads.)

    Also I think it would be great of Windows Media Center sported its current 10 foot interface, in addition to a regular sized interface, which would allow other modes of interaction with media content on the platform. Apart from more easily making comments on shows, a content provider such as MSNBC could archive all its shows, and make them searchable for people who would like to engage in reasearch on various topics. An MSNBC application produced on top of Media Center, could allow MSNBC to monetize its assets in new and engaging ways, allowing for collaboration, referencing, etc. around its assets. I therefore think Media Center has a lot of potential.
    P. Douglas
    • Most of your suggested changes are moot

      Microsoft will eventually move all media experiences to the Zune brand anyway. What you see as the Zune 4.0 software now will evolve into the replacement for Media Player and Media Center in future Windows versions.
      Joe_Raby
      • mess

        the ongoing strategic and marketing mess. the constant shift of brand
        names (remember "live" anyone?) just shows what a mess microsoft is
        right now.
        bannedfromzdnetagain
        • PlaysForSure

          Google it.
          HollywoodDog
          • Windows Mobile [i]is[/i] PlaysForSure

            Windows Mobile is like the second coming of PlaysForSure, Microsoft's failed music platform.

            Both Windows Mobile and PlaysForSure were licensed to OEMs to make their own hardware devices.

            Both Windows Mobile and PlaysForSure failed in the market, burning the OEMs who participated.

            After the failures of Windows Mobile and PlaysForSure, Microsoft was inspired to replace both products with a Zune product.

            PlaysForSure was replaced with the Zune music player.

            Windows Mobile will be replaced with a Zune phone.

            Both resulted in their platforms finishing in a train wreck.
            Vbitrate
    • Quickplay idea

      The idea of having a QuickPlay like option for Media Center would be a very good addition, perhaps you should send that idea to the team (I'm serious btw, I think it's a very simple addition with good utility).
      NortherngeekUK
  • Finally!

    For years I have liked Microsoft products but always wondered why they don't integrate better with themselves (heck, often third party software plays nicer with MS's own stuff). Obviously there's been a lot of fall out from the anti-trust lawsuits that have meant Microsoft acts as multiple small companies rather than one large one, but can I just say- finally!

    A company the size of MS clearly needs divisions but the sheer number of them is ridiculous, hopefully now they can steer the ship better as a result of teams working together rather than separately.


    Look at Zune/WinMo, both are ok products (I actually love my Zune) but have been taking a beating, now that the teams are more closely linked it's great to see that WinMo7 is finally gathering some excitement. The products can work synergistically- maybe now we'll see what Microsoft can do in Entertainment and Devices as an 800-pound gorilla rather than a bunch of separate monkeys.
    NortherngeekUK
    • now

      after ten years with their entertainment divison, losing billions of dollares
      in xbox, zune and winmo adventures you think now is the time?
      bannedfromzdnetagain
  • Spelling

    Rodriguez

    -NOT-

    Rodriquez
    angarita calvo
    • typo

      is now fixed on Rodriguez's name. THanks. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley