Microsoft Shakes Up .Net Marketing

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Microsoft has quietly reshuffled the marketing decks for its all-important .Net strategy.

Chris Atkinson, who had headed the overall effort, was named vice president of sales and marketing for Asia. Michael Risse is also being redeployed at the company, said several company sources. Risse was general manager of the .Net Enterprise Solutions Group.

The .Net marketing message will now be more closely aligned with the product development of the component .Net pieces, the sources said. Prior to this move, the marketing groups reported up to Risse. Now they will report into the various product lines," said one Microsoft source who requested anonymity.

There were "too many marketing teams that weren't getting anything done," said the source.

The changes were disclosed inside the company earlier this week.

Another Microsoft source confirmed the move, and said that the company is making similar moves across the board. "Marketing all over is being pushed back to the various product groups, Office, the Windows client, everywhere. It's part of a cycle. We go full circle every nine to 18 months,"

Paul Flessner, senior vice president of .Net enterprise servers, has likewise decided that alignment between marketing and development is a good idea for the whole .Net effort, this source said.

Microsoft is famous for its reorganizations. "I'd be concerned if Microsoft was stable for more than six months. It would suggest they're slowing down," said Dwight Davis, software analyst for Summit Strategies.

Davis said the company has to do a better job on explaining .Net and its advantages. "If you measure marketing success by the column inches, you'd have to rate them high. But if you measure by audience comprehension they don't rank so high," he said.

But Microsoft has all along said its .Net vision will take years to roll out. The first real deliverable, Visual Studio .Net, is slated to launch formally next month. Developers can download the software now from MSDN, Microsoft said Wednesday.

Once the tools are out, developers can start building real products and real deployments will hopefully follow, Davis said. But from the launch of the .Net strategy in June 2000 until now, Microsoft has struggled to articulate its vision, he said.

Microsoft did not return calls for comment.

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