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Fresh from two major reorganisations last year plus countless - and barely documented - min-reorgs, Microsoft is at it again. Is it because president and CEO Steve Ballmer likes the "continuous reinvention" sound-bite? This time around Ballmer is merging the platforms division with the developer group, with Jim Allchin keeping his job as head of all things OS in the former, but Paul Maritz, once the number three at MS, taking charge of the combined operation. And there hangs a tale, we think. Microsoft's last but one major reorganisation took place, funnily enough, at the end of March 1999. Life's too short to reprise it in detail, but Maritz being put in charge of developer then looked pretty much like a demotion. But by the end of July somebody at Microsoft was spinning to the Wall Street Journal that Maritz was poised to leave the company. There are two exquisite ironies to the WSJ tale. First of all, although it didn't cite the name(s) of whoever was mapping out Paul's future for him, it did quote Mich Mathews as saying he was staying with the company "for the immediate future." Hardly a denial that, but one of the other facets of the latest reorg is that Mathews herself is to head up a new centralised marketing division to spin across the Microsoft business groups. So we hope she and Paul are getting along. The other irony is that one of the reasons that was being put forward for Maritz dropping out of the picture was that he was spending more time at his farm in Zimbabwe. As we Registered with some prescience at the time, this probably was not a smart idea, and indeed in the intervening months the position of white farmers in Zimbabwe has worsened considerably. Teams of Robert Mugabe inspired "war veterans" are currently camped on many of the properties, and frankly, it's not the sort of picture you'd relish dropping into after dropping out of Microsoft. The new Maritz day job will involve combining Microsoft's efforts at producing the Next Generation Windows Services strategy that was announced when Bill Gates took more of a back seat. This is going to be a case of linking the various Microsoft products into a coherent (?) distributed platform, so it's a lot broader than just an OS development programme (Allchin's bag). But clearly it will involve OS development as well, so the reorg makes some sense. Meanwhile there's word of another reorg, this time a sales-led one designed to push servers and Internet services into the enterprise, and this could come as ealry as next week, according to US reports. Continuous reinvention or total chaos? You decide... ® Related stories: Maritz, one time MS number three, to leave company MS reorg - so how many divisions was that? Click for more stories

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