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

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.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

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 Bing.com 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.

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