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Microsoft on Tuesday announced a sharp reorganization of the company into three divisions in order to streamline decision making and speed to market.

The software giant will realign several existing units into three core divisions—Platforms and Services; Business; and Entertainment and Devices—that better represent Microsoft’s goals, said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO.

In addition, Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s chief technical officer, will assume broader responsibility for developing software based services across all three divisions as the company pushes to offer services and programs alongside competitors Google and Yahoo.

“These changes are designed to align our business groups in a way that will enhance decision-making and speed of execution, as well as help us continue to deliver the types of products and services our customers want most,” Ballmer said.

“By bringing together the software experience and the service experience, we will better address the changing needs of our customers’ digital lifestyles and the new world of work.”

Each new division will be headed by its own president.

Microsoft Platform Products and Services division will oversee the Windows Operating System, corporate server software and MSN Web offerings.

The division will be headed by co-presidents Kevin Johnson and Jim Allchin, currently vice president of Windows development.

“We are focused on creating exciting user experiences and enabling developers to build great applications with the combination of software and software-based services,” Ballmer said.

Click here to read more about Microsoft’s innovations and upcoming products from an eWEEK Q&A session with Ballmer.

“Our MSN organization has great expertise in innovating quickly and delivering software-based services at scale. The platform groups have great expertise in creating a software platform and user experience that touches millions of people. By combining these areas of expertise, we will deliver greater value to our customers.”

The fusion of software and Web offerings is a play to improve Microsoft’s presence in the Web offerings market, where Google and Yahoo have done so well, Microsoft indicated.

Microsoft Business Division, formerly Information Worker business and Microsoft Business Solutions, will deliver software and software-based services for the business market. Jeff Raikes will serve as president.

Entertainment and Devices, a fusion of the current Home and Entertainment and Mobile and Embedded Devices divisions, will produce devices to deliver media for individuals at work, at home and when they’re mobile, Microsoft said.

The realignment comes as Microsoft prepares for a brisk 18 months of product releases and developments in the midsize business market and hosted solutions.

Microsoft also announced that Allchin will retire by the end of 2006.

“I absolutely love this company, and I am fully engaged in making great products,” Allchin said. “My passion for Microsoft is as strong as ever. While I will call it a day at the end of next year after Windows Vista ships, I’m confident the world-class team of people I’ve been fortunate to work with will ensure we execute on our long-term mission.”

Eric Rudder, the current senior vice president of Microsoft’s server business, was named to a new position—chairman and chief software architect—that reports directly to Bill Gates.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to add information about the motives behind Microsoft’s reorganization.

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