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HP software lands ex-Microsoft Windows and Office chief

Two steps behind Hurd

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So much for that idea of running a business from end-to-end. Bill Veghte, a 20-year Microsoftie who ran development, sales, and marketing operations for Office and Windows, is now doing essentially the same job at the much smaller, much less influential, and much more opaque unit at Hewlett-Packard.

Veghte is executive vice president of software and solutions and will start work on May 17. He will report to Ann Livermore, also an executive vice president, but of the much larger $54bn enterprise business, the amalgam of servers, storage, networking, software, and services.

"Bill has built a reputation as an experienced business leader with a proven track record of driving growth and innovation," Livermore said in an announcement.

"Expanding our software and solutions business is critical to HP, and Bill's broad experience across sales, marketing, and engineering will be instrumental in driving this business forward and in strengthening our strategic partnerships with our clients."

In his most recent job at Microsoft, Veghte was a senior vice president in charge of Microsoft's $15bn Windows and Windows Live Division, the crown jewels at Microsoft. Getting Windows 7 launched seems to have given Veghte an urge to explore other options, or at least that is what Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said back in January.

In July 2009, after Windows 7 was pretty much cooked and preparing for its October launch, Microsoft reorganized the Windows division for the umpteenth time and Steven Sinofsky was named president of the Windows group. Veghte was due for a new leadership role to be announced later. Whatever was supposed to happen, didn't, and Veghte left Microsoft. Office is Veghte's baby, as was development of Windows 98 and Windows Server. HP surely needs an exec of this caliber to lead its software charge.

Moving to HP's software and solutions division, which rakes in $3.6bn a year, has to be something of a downer in terms of industry power and might.

The division, though, is in charge of the systems, network, and application management tools that are used across HP's server and storage platforms, and this software will be critical to systems sales in the future where customers are interested in unified computing. Translated: heterogeneous, virtualized servers all linking to each other and storage over converged systems and storage networks.

In HPspeak, these are all lumped under the buzzword business technology optimization and in a system, are called Matrix. The software and solutions division also includes Neoview data warehousing and analytics, email, database, file, and medical records archiving, document, printer, photo, and other output management software, and a slew of programs like OpenCall and other communication, messaging, and billing systems that are lumped under the general category of communications and media.

Veghte was expected to search out a job as a CEO of a free-standing software company, but clearly HP made him an offer he didn't refuse. Veghte is only two steps away from Mark Hurd, HP's president, chief executive officer, and chairman, and running HP's software biz has to be a lot easier than recovering from the Windows Vista fiasco. ®

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