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MS consumer group: your executive departures tonight

Now Bennett hits the trail

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The turnover of executives at Microsoft's consumer and commerce group continues. Pete Higgins pulled the plug about a year ago; Peter Neupert - who did much to bolster Microsoft's new media efforts - went last year; Brad Silverberg is leaving today, and now it's the turn of Rob Bennett, director of marketing for the consumer unit. He has left to join encoding.com as director of product marketing. There can be little doubt that the internal pressure to make the group he leaves profitable and world-leading is very strong, but it remains a tough area in which to work for such a demanding company. Microsoft probably now regrets that it is not charging for IE. Bennett worked recently as co-director with Yusuf Mehdi (who achieved some notoriety during the trial on a videotape), and was previously on various Windows and IE products. He took the flack when the Windows 98 serial number (the Globally Unique Identifier, GUID) scandal erupted. Although Microsoft denied that it used the GUID for marketing purposes, it was difficult to see why the undocumented serial number should be tattooed on a document. Bennett said of it, "If it's a bug, and it looks like it is, we'll fix it." which wasn't very credible. The more logical explanation - that it was part of a copy protection scheme - was denied by Bennett. After massive pressure about privacy concerns from users, Microsoft said it would delete the facility. Meanwhile Silverberg said yesterday in an interview with CNET that he hadn't been on paid leave for all this time, but was employed part-time. He has decided to be active with mentoring and funding startups. He denied that he went on sabbatical after Jim Allchin was given control of IE development, and noted that Allchin was given control of IE seven months after he went walkabout. Who will be next to leave, we wonder... ®

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