Microsoft reorgs its Office business to focus on four new investment areas

Microsoft reorgs its Office business to focus on four new investment areas

Summary: Microsoft's OneNote business is getting a big push in the newly reorganized Office business. Here's what else the company is prioritizing with its latest moves.


Up until last month, the Office team at Microsoft was organized pretty much the same way it has been for some time: Along Office client and Office server/services lines.


Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper ran Office server and services; Corporate Vice President Kirk Koenigsbauer ran Office client and services. Both of those businesses became part of Executive Vice President Qi Lu's Applications and Services Group (ASG) last summer as part of the One Microsoft reorg.

In February 2014, Lu outlined in an internal memo the responsibilities of the handful of teams that were part of his organization, spanning Bing, MSN, Advertising, and Office.

Some time last month, Lu took steps to further refine the Office piece of the business, according to my sources. Instead of reinforcing the Office divide along client/server lines, Lu reorganized that part of the business around a few key cross-platform groups.

As Bloomberg reported on June 2, Office server chief Teper has moved into a new role and is now working on corporate acquisitions/strategy. (Koenigsbauer is still working on Office client, I hear.) But that wasn't the only change in Lu's latest reorg.

Replacing Teper, at least in part is Rajesh Jha, I hear. Jha's title, as of mid May, was Corporate Vice President for Office Services and Servers (Teper's former title). Jha is responsible for Office 365, among other products. Jha also has responsibility for Exchange and both Outlook and, my contacts say.

This combined Exchange/Outlook/ is one of the new Office-business hubs. The others include a combined OneDrive/SharePoint Online headed by Corporate Vice President Chris Jones and the combined Skype/Lync team which is run by Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Singh Pall.

With these combined groups, at least in theory, there's no software/services divide. There's no consumer/enterprise divide. The teams focused on cloud storage are sitting together. All the teams focused on mail are together. Ditto for teams focused on unified communications.

And then... there's OneNote.

Microsoft has tried repeatedly to make OneNote one of its signature products. OneNote is feature-rich and cross-platform (running on iOS, Mac OS X, Android, Windows, Windows 8, Windows Phone and more). But it's still too hard for mere mortals to pick up quickly and use productively.

Nonetheless, Microsoft management genuinely believes that OneNote still could rise to be one of the company's flagship products. That's why Microsoft included an "open OneNote" button on its Surface Pro 3 pen. It's why its stalled Surface Mini was designed to be a note-taking-optimized device.

While OneNote remains part of the Office "suite" of products, it is also its own business now on a par with the other three cross-platform pillars (OneDrive/SharePoint; Exchange/Outlook; Skype/Lync), according to one of my sources. OneNote used to be part of an Authoring Group inside Office, alongside Word and Publisher. Now it's being set up as a separately operating unit reporting directly to Lu. 

These four new cross-platform groups (OneNote, Exchange/Outlook, OneDrive/SharePoint and Skype/Lync, more than Office itself, are where Lu and Microsoft will be making big bets, moving forward.

Topics: Collaboration, Cloud, IT Priorities, Microsoft, Storage


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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  • OneNote - Good News

    Good to hear the good news about OneNote getting the love from MS. I've used it for a number of years and it's a great product. I love how you can print to it and send emails in to it.

    With respect Mary, I found it an easy product to use and in a former role got the whole department in to using it (ultimately much better than I did) after a 10 minute demo.

    Great for team collaboration and personal productivity use.

    MS need to push it to corporates a lot more :-)
    • Easy and Hard

      I find that for a single user OneNote is very easy to use. When it comes to collaboration it is difficult. I feel that they have made collaboration as easy as possible. It is just a difficult concept for many to understand. I do not understand why, it just is. Also, it is easy for one person to mess up a document making that document difficult for others to use. I have never understood how they do it but they do.

      Digital Ink is assume in OneNote. I feel that is the next killer app. The hardware market is lagging behind software because so few understand the difference between touch and digitizing touch with a pen. Right now the market is still pushing a lot of pixelated displays in tablets let alone go for the extra cost of digitizing touch. I have tested some tablets that only provide 20 touch points per inch. Digital Ink needs several hundred.
    • Hope for a better OneNote

      I agree, MS needs to push OneNote to support corporate usage. I find it shocking that off the apps available on the Office365 portal. It is the only app that required an MS ID. I was able to find workaround utilizing OneDrive for Business with the following sequence used.
      • Authenticate to OneDrive for Business using corporate account.
      • From OneDrive for Business select an OneNote Notebook to edit.
      • Authenticate to OneNote using corporate account

      On April 2nd 2014 Microsoft announced an update to OneNote for iPad. This update may have impacted the previous workaround forcing Office 365 users that wish to use OneNote to obtain a Microsoft account (consumer account) I do not see the logic here. OneNote is the equivalent of OneDrive for consumers. A OneNote for Business is needed .
    • OneNote easy to use

      I agree with SWard. I find OneNote easy to use. Admittedly I need it only for basic note-taking but I have tried voice-clips on my Windows Phone 8. Also easy.
  • OneNote for WinRT's one killer missing feature:


    Otherwise, it's a perfect app to be included in Windows for personal document-writing and note-taking, ala old-timey pre-Windows computers with ancient word processors. If you were in grade school in the 80's, you know what those types of programs were like. Back when Token-Ring was the standard network, any non-Windows system had quirky GUI controls and simple word processors. You even had rudimentary document sharing capabilities over the network in a lot of those programs. OneNote for RT feels the same, but at the same time, more updated for today's systems. There must be older designers working on it because it really takes me back to a simpler software design period.
    • curious...

      Why would there be a need to print from it?

      Given how easy it is to have team notebooks, and move data to and from it - what scenario would you need to print it out?

      I hadn't even realised it was missing a print function (and for that matter have never gone near the print button I assume is in the desktop version) in the 4+ years I have been using both versions (the RT version for the past couple years since it came out). In fairness as well - thanks to how easy it is to share docs via SharePoint/OneDrive/Office365 and being able to edit pdf documents electronically - I haven't actually printed anything from any program in a couple of years either.
  • MS is playing a dangerous game

    There are rules which govern our world, and it always best to heed them before you begin building stuff. You cannot have a platform and go multiplatform at the same time, and believe you will not pay a price. MS is acting like a TV network, which okays the sales department, to sell advertising slots to competitors, so that they can advertise their shows on the TV network. What on earth do you think is going to happen? The sales department is going to drive their own customers to competing networks.

    Yes, it is true MS is going to gain extra revenue by going multiplatform in a big way: but this is going to cost them Windows. It is undoubtedly going to solidify the gains made by Android and iOS in the consumer space, and make it easier for Android and iOS to compete against Windows in the enterprise space. MS might be able to get away with what is doing (at least in the enterprise space) by making sure its cross platform products are consistently considerably better on Windows than on other platforms, but I don't see that happening generally. Also if MS is not going to exclusively support Windows Phone with it products and services, vs. making them also available on the iPhone and Android phones, then it should get used to the fact it has little chance of gaining any traction in the consumer market. Seriously, if you are competing in a race and are far behind, you do not help out your competitors, so that they can stay far ahead of you. Who on earth does this? If services on the iPhone and Android phones mean more to MS than Windows Phone, then maybe MS should just throw in the towel with Windows Phone.

    MS do what ever it wants to do. But it cannot seriously believe that it can have its cake and eat it too. No one can. Countless souls have tried and failed to do so, and I have not met one who has succeeded.
    P. Douglas
    • they are torn...

      Take the Xbox as the perfect case in point... They have xbox games, xbox movies(which includes tv) and xbox music.

      With the games they have for now kept the tie in with WP only, but with music and movies they have moved to make it available cross platform to compete against Spotify etc - except in doing so gave up one of the great differentiators for WP.

      Office I don't see as to great a deal.

      Now that Nokia services is a truly separate business does that mean Nokia Here apps will start showing up on Android/iOS soon and WP loose another great differentiator?

      It is a challenge that I don't see either as to how they can hope to win when they keep porting everything to the other platforms. I don't know that they can compete solely on Cortana and the UI alone. I love WP and hope it is around for a long time to come but they either need to start marketing more and pushing the built in syncing with Win8 or they need to hobble the ports so they work enough to get people interested but not so well that it removes the imputes to jump to WP.
      • Nokia HERE Maps not sold

        aesonaus, HERE Maps were not sold to MS. They are an important component of the 'new' (phoneless) Nokia.

        Whether they will show up on other platforms or not is a matter for Nokia, not MS (unless they struck some sort of deal we don't know about).
  • Ah, Microsoft is finally figuring out it has a stealth "killer app"

    I have no idea why they haven't been pushing OneNote for the last decade. If they'd marketed it correctly, the original (pen-based) Tablet PC might have succeeded.

    OneNote, combined with a modern tablet/convertible, is the perfect platform for students and for office workers that spend lots of time in meetings.
  • They should add mind mapping to OneNote

    I love OneNote, though it doesn't work on my blackberry Z10 (no native and the android version doesn't work either).

    One thing OneNote could use is some Mind Map primitives.

    But OneNote is an excellent tool and is much better than Evergreen.
  • Microsoft Has Not Tried to Make OneNote a Signature Product

    I rarely disagree with you Ms. Foley, but the statement that "Microsoft has tried repeatedly to make OneNote one of its signature products." is just not true. Until this latest push to energize Windows 8+ with an injection of OneNote, it has languished in the backwater at Microsoft. In fact, about 6-7 years ago I contacted Microsoft's development group (even wrote to the general comment box for Mr. Ballmer in a useless fit of immaturity) about really marketing OneNote as a killer management/note taking environment, and the development group thought I was seeking some kind of joint development project (as if I were the developer). After a few more exchanges, in which I extolled the virtues of OneNote 2007, I was basically told to wait and see their CRM updated service. In fact, they had little knowledge, if any, of OneNote. Just like the Courier and InkSeine projects, what could have been their killer note taking app was ignored by Microsoft. Here's hoping that the needs of the Surface team finally bring it to the forefront, if it's not too late.
  • I still can't find a good use for OneNote

    Maybe if I had a device that harnessed all of its features I would use it. I have hundreds of Notepad files and I prefer using to keep notes, they are easier to find and even update. OneNote to me is this big app that takes forever to load and its organization features to me feels foreign. This is an app I have known about since the Office 11 beta (Office 2003), but over 11 years later, its still new to me.
    • Using OneNote

      I have 'owned' OneNote for years but never used it, until now! Once I acquired a Windows Phone 8 last summer (my first smartphone) I found OneNote a really useful tool. This includes the integration with OneDrive and with my desktop.

      I do not use it every day, but when I do use it, it is *really* useful.
  • OneNote

    Using OneNote for shared, portable, device independent disaster recovery documentation. Evernote for everything else - much smarter web clips and you can email in to your notebooks.