Microsoft Realigns Organization, Promises 'Deep Entertainment Experiences,' 'Serious Fun'

7:37 AM PST 07/11/2013 by Georg Szalai
Courtesy of Zune
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Julie Larson-Green will lead the devices and studios engineering group, which will be responsible for games, music, video and other entertainment.

Microsoft on Thursday detailed an organizational realignment in a memo, in which the technology giant promised to provide "deep entertainment experiences" to consumers that allow them to have "serious fun."

A published memo from CEO Steve Ballmer about the reorganization, which reduces the number of company divisions, had the headline "One Microsoft." Ballmer said the goal of the streamlining was to speed up innovation, increase collaboration and reach efficiencies.

"We will strive for a single experience for everything in a person’s life that matters," he wrote. "One experience, one company, one set of learnings, one set of apps, and one personal library of entertainment, photos and information everywhere."

Ballmer said Microsoft has "incredible new opportunities" in various areas, including in entertainment. "We are going to immerse people in deep entertainment experiences that let them have serious fun in ways so intense and delightful that they will blur the line between reality and fantasy," he wrote. His memo also highlighted the increasing importance of tablet computers.

Julie Larson-Green, formerly in charge of Microsoft's Windows operating system, was named head of a new business group that will have a key entertainment focus. Her devices and studios engineering group will include all hardware development, including for the Xbox video games console and the Surface tablet, and also be responsible "for our studios experiences, including all games, music, video and other entertainment," Ballmer said.

Former Xbox head Don Mattrick recently left to become CEO of social gaming giant Zynga.

In a section entitled "serious fun," Ballmer wrote that this expression "encapsulates an important point of differentiation for us."

Explained the CEO: "There are many things people do for light fun, for example play solitaire, spend three minutes on a word game or surf the TV. Although we will enable these activities effectively, our biggest opportunity is in creating the fun people feel most intensely, such as playing a game that lasts hours and takes real concentration, or immersing them in live events and entertainment (including sports, concerts, education and fitness) while allowing interactive participation."

Interactivity boosts engagement and requires differentiated hardware, apps and services, he argued.

Ballmer closed the memo by acknowledging that there are "lots of change" to digest, but the company also would continue to pursue key goals, such as making "the world a better place for billions of people and millions of businesses around the world." Emphasizing that "we’re not done," he ended with the line: "Let’s go."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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