Microsoft's revolving small-business door revolves again

It seems to be a tough job running the small/mid-size business (SMB) group at Microsoft. Even though Microsoft's execs have made it plain that they consider the SMB segment to be key to the company's success, no one lasts very long in the SMB chief's chair.

It seems to be a tough job running the small/mid-size business (SMB) group at Microsoft. Even though Microsoft's execs have made it plain that they consider the SMB segment to be key to the company's success, no one lasts very long in the SMB chief's chair.

The latest to depart is Birger Steen, who at the end of August will be hanging up his hat as Vice President, Worldwide Small Medium Business & Distribution. Steen is going to become president at virtualization vendor Parallels, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. Microsoft currently is searching for a replacement for Steen.

Steen held the SMB vice presidency title for a year. He was at Microsoft for eight years in total, which included stints leading Microsoft's sales and marketing operations in Norway and Russia.

Microsoft's official statement on Steen's departure is from Vahe Torossian, corporate VP for SMS&P:

“Our small and mid-market business (SMB) leadership group, and specifically Birger Steen, has played an instrumental role in bridging the gap between the SMBs and technology through their leadership in the past year. Microsoft remains committed to investing in small and mid-market businesses and our partners who serve them. The list of products and offerings that we launched last year specifically for the SMBs is a great testament to the priority and focus we have with this customer segment. I am even more excited with the opportunities that cloud computing can bring to SMBs now and in the near future. We appreciate all that Birger has done and wish him well.”

Steen's predecessor was Michael Risse, who became Vice President of SMB in 2007 and lasted until 2009.

Microsoft is expected to launch test builds in August of two new SMB-focused products, an on-premises SMB server, codenamed "SBS 7," and a new hybrid cloud/on-premises SMB server, codenamed "Aurora."

At Microsoft's recent Finanacial Analyst Meeting, company officials said that 20 percent of Microsoft's business comes from SMBs, while 36 percent comes from enterprise customers and 17 percent from consumer sales.