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Microsoft has hired a senior ex-Yahooer to run its loss-making internet search and advertising business.

Dr Qi Lu joins Microsoft in January as president of its Online Services Group. Lu used to be executive vice president of engineering at Yahoo's search and advertising technology group - he left the firm in August after ten years service. The Online Services Group includes search and advertising - two areas in which Microsoft is struggling to make an impact against Google.

The division was created in July when the Platform and Services group was split into Windows/Windows Live and OSG after the departure of Kevin Johnson following the failure of the Yahoo! takeover. OSG lost $480m in the most recent quarter ended 30 September.

He takes over from Brian McAndrews, ex-boss of aQantive, which was bought by Microsoft for $6bn in 2007. McAndrews will act as a consultant to help the hand over to Lu before leaving Microsoft.

Before joining Yahoo! Lu was a researcher for IBM - he holds 20 US patents.

As part of the changes the Online Sales Group field sales force will move to Microsoft's central sales and marketing division. ®

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