Inside one of Microsoft's biggest and most mysterious teams, the Applications and Services Group

Inside one of Microsoft's biggest and most mysterious teams, the Applications and Services Group

Summary: Since Microsoft reorganized last July, there has been little information about what its new Applications & Services team is doing or how it's organized. Now we know a bit more.


Of all the teams created during the July 2013 "One Microsoft" reorg, the one that's been the biggest black hole -- in terms of public information about its charter and organization -- has been the Applications and Services Group (ASG).


Headed by Executive Vice President Qi Lu, the ASG includes many of the people and products that were formerly parts of the Microsoft Business Division (the home of Office), as well as Bing, MSN, Skype and Advertising.

Julie Larson-Green, the former Executive VP of Microsoft's Devices & Studios group, is moving to ASG to become the Chief Experience Officer and leader of the "My Life & Work" team. But that team is only one of several that Lu oversees. The others:

  • Information Platform 
  • Bing Experiences
  • Advertising & Consumer Monetization 
  • Information & Content Consumption Experiences 
  • Skype & Lync
  • Office Client Services
  • Office Server Services
  • Microsoft Business Solutions (dotted-line responsibility)

Lu announced internally the structure of his organization on February 24, the same day that Larson-Green's appointment was announced. Larson-Green's team will be focused on the design and quality of shared-user experiences across devices and services.

The Information Platform business is now led by David Ku. It includes the aforementioned shared platforms and experiences, which include Shared Cloud Technologies (Edge, XAP, ObjectStore, among others); Shared Data, Analytics and Experimentation Platform; Shared Engineering Fundamentals tools and services; and Shared Privacy, Security and Compliance. Ku's team also is responsible for "Satori" as a platform; Web indexing; core search intent and relevance; search ads; and new user-interface capabilities.

(Translation into semi-English: Edge is Microsoft's internal network of servers deployed in its own datacenters that runs its various online services. XAP is the Windows Phone/Silverlight app-packaging format. But in this case, it's more likely a reference to the Bing Search Answers technology, also known as XAP. ObjectStore is the real-time table-serving platform that powers Microsoft’s Online Services. Satori is Bing's knowledge base.)

There's also a separate Bing Experiences team, led by Derrick Connell, that will focus on design; the homepage; Bing verticals, maps, local and multimedia; the Bing experience in other Microsoft products (like Windows and Xbox); Bing-powered Microsoft services; and third-party partnerships with companies like Facebook, Apple and Amazon.

Rik van der Kooi is heading up the Advertising & Consumer Monetization organization, which will be overseeing display advertising (both engineering and business); search advertising, marketing and subscriptions. Brian MacDonald is leading the Information & Content Consumption Experiences team, which includes MSN, Bing Apps and content publishing tools and platforms. MacDonald also will oversee a team that works on future scenarios and incubations, known as the ASG "Future Do More" Experiences unit.

In his February 24 ASG organizational memo, Lu didn't detail any organizational or mission changes for  the Office client or server pieces of the business. Skype & Lync is being led from an engineering perspective by Gurdeep Singh Pall. Microsoft Business Solutions, the home of Microsoft's Dynamics CRM and ERP products, is still headed by Executive VP Kirill Tatarinov.

Before he was tapped to head up ASG, Lu was the President of Microsoft's Online Services Division, which included Bing, MSN and search. Before joining Microsoft in 2008, Lu worked at Yahoo for 10 years in various roles, including Executive Vice President for Search and Adveritising.

Topics: Cloud, Collaboration, Emerging Tech, Enterprise Software, Microsoft


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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  • IT pros

    I know a lot if IT pros that would kill to be on the Microsoft Services team, any of the teams. The hiring process is brutal. If hired you get to work on cutting edge technology with a never ending budget. I also thing most of the services are profitable, although some aren't. Even a brief stint is a super resume builder.
    Sean Foley
  • Duplicate sentence in there, Mary Joy...

    "XAP is the Windows/Windows Store app-packaging format."

    Might want to remove it.
    • Thanks. Got rid of the duplicate sentence

      Thanks, Jesse! MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • so many managers

    It feels MSFT has 10 managers for any one worker. no wonder this company can't ship on time.
    • So, let's see: MS has 101,000 employees, which means that,

      they must have about 90,000 managers and executives.

      Sounds about right.

      But, who does the actual leg work if MS puts out so much stuff, and managers only occupy a desk?
  • bing apps

    With the things MS is trying to do lately, its clear that they are going to try to be like google, which will require collecting all your info across all services, for "Bing Now" type of service. But they are always running negative ads about google doing the very things they are moving towards.
    Its like Cuba decrying the evils of capitalism, all while trying to come up with brilliant capitalism-free ideas about creating a better economy. Meanwhile, its still like 1950 there.
    • Right. So to dismiss the problem

      that Google currently IS collecting all your all your info across all services, lay claim to a "fact" that MS is planning to do that, even though you haven't talked to anyone at MS, nor have they indicated they're going to do that.

      Its like shooting someone and claiming "Stand Your Ground" knowing the other person isn't around anymore to point out that you actually shot them while trying to steal their wallet.
      • So isn't

        Microsoft. The only difference is: Microsoft s vilifying Google for it, while Microsoft is doing the thing they're claiming is evil.
        I hate trolls also
        • "Microsoft is doing the thing they're claiming is evil."

          No, they aren't.
          x I'm tc
    • There is a difference

      Since we are discussing rumors of what they will do... The current rumor of Cortana using data collected is that it will display exactly what data is collected and you can control how much or little of the data can be collected, as the user is our customer. That is seriously different than Google's collect everything from every source by any means possible, as the user is our product.
  • XAP correction.

    XAP is the packaging format for Windows Phone and Silverlight apps. (Windows Phone 8.1 depricates xap in favor of appx)

    APPX is the evolution of XAP used for deployment to the Windows Store.
    • XAP

      Thanks. Fixed that, thanks to you. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Bings

    I have Bing desktop and several other related services. I wonder if this group will come out of hiding once the Nokia takeover is completed. Microsoft 365 is one of those programs that I don't particularly care for, would be nice if they could revisit some of their other programs to run better with each other. I was using the Jolt app, so nice to be able to do chat, video, voice...altogether, way to go AB Mobile Apps.
  • is this mysyerious group part of the reorg?..

    ... or the Sea Org?