By Siobhan Kennedy
As Microsoft’s antitrust trial entered its fifteenth week in Washington yesterday, rumors about a company-wide reorganization at Redmond began to circulate. The speculations, fueled by an article in Monday’s Seattle Times, have it that the software giant is on the verge of announcing a radical shake-up of its internal divisions in a bid to better focus its efforts on the internet. Sources quoted in the Times said Microsoft president Steve Ballmer is driving the shake-up through concern that the company has lost its consumer focus and needs to get back to delivering innovative products faster. Redmond wants its name to be synonymous with the internet in the same way as it is with PCs, the sources said. Although Microsoft officials declined to comment on the details of the changes, one spokesperson did confirm that Brad Silverburg, who left the company in 1997 on a sabbatical after internal browser wranglings, has been approached to head up one of the new divisions. Silverburg, 44, is still officially an employee of Microsoft, even though he left the company in June 1997 and has since held numerous consulting positions for other organizations. The spokesperson confirmed that Redmond had approached Silverburg, and several other potential candidates with a view to heading up a new group responsible for the software giant’s consumer Windows operations and online businesses. Silverburg led Microsoft’s DOS and Windows upgrades throughout the past decade and is also acknowledged as the person responsible for pushing the company to develop its browser software, Internet Explorer. Before he left, he was group VP of the internet platforms & tools division. His departure, although referred to inside Microsoft as personal leave was widely believed to be the result of a dispute over IE with the company’s now senior VP Jim Allchin, and its integration into Windows 98. As well as setting up a new division, the paper says Microsoft will reorganize its four technology-driven divisions: personal and business systems, under Jim Allchin; applications and tools, under Bob Muglia; information appliances, under Harel Kodesh; and interactive media, under Peter Higgins. There will also be four new customer-focused units: consumers, corporate, home office, telecommunications and developers. Microsoft wouldn’t confirm whether a company-wide reorganization was imminent, only to say that the software giant looks at its internal workings annually to make sure it’s structured to best suit the needs of its customers. That being the case, the last restructure took place a year ago, so a reshuffle of some description looks likely.