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Kempin, star MS enforcer, gets Ballmer special projects gig

Unbounded joy breaks out in PC biz - free at last?

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The man who pays the bills at Microsoft is switching over to overseeing "special projects" for company president Steve Ballmer. According to today's Wall Street Journal the switch of jobs for Joachim Kempin, the senior VP in charge of Microsoft's OEM software business, was announced in an internal Microsoft memo a few weeks ago.

Kempin has been with Microsoft for 17 years, and has been spectacularly efficient in his work. He is the one who's kept the price Microsoft charges to PC manufacturers stable while hardware prices have plunged, and he's been responsible for the execution of the "Windows Experience" strategy. This involved the extension of Microsoft's copyright claims to the whole look and feel of the desktop, right down to the icons the PC companies could put there, how the software installed and who could run ads on the desktop.

None of this was welcome to the PC companies, all of it was enforced by the diligent Joachim, who inadvertently contributed many of The Register's favourite trial memos, and then stolidly defended his turf at the trial itself. You could say you've got to hand it him, but you'd be wrong - he's got it already, and he knows how the horse's head got into your bed as well.

Another remarkable thing about Kempin is that although he's a top Microsoft executive in the "Rich as Croesus" category, it looks like he's going into a proper job, rather than the escape pod that has become usual for execs in his category, of late. Steve Ballmer has made some disparaging noises about the talents of some of the people who've jumped ship (without naming the names) but perhaps this time the self-portrayed Dr Evil of Microsoft has selected his very own Oddjob.

But what, exactly, will Kempin be doing? Who are the lucky business partners he'll be keeping in line? Now there's a worry for many of you. He's being replaced in his old job by Richard Roy, general manager of Microsoft Deutschland, come July, but we don't expect Roy to be anything like as much fun as Joachim was, and as we hope he'll continue to be. ®

Joachim Kempin's Greatest Hits:
Cut a deal or you don't get Win95 - IBM faces PC suicide
Secret deals MS uses to control PC companies
MS OEM VP to IBM: dump Lotus and we'll cut a deal
MS exec's hunting trip: illegally chased and shot 4 antelopes
MS paid $50k to buy 'Compaq of Europe' out of DR-DOS deal
MS exec in shock Windows is great white whale claim
MS pricing strategy exposed - cheap when there's competition, but...

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