Microsoft taps Wal-Mart exec to be new COO

Microsoft Corp. tapped Kevin Turner, a 40-year-old executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to fill the position of chief operating officer. Turner will be responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of Microsoft's sales, marketing and service professionals, as well as the company's fulfillment and IT operations, according to a statement released Thursday by the software vendor. He will join Microsoft on Sept. 8.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement that the company will benefit from Turner's "experience, proven record of success and passion for technology" and added that the new COO will help ensure that Microsoft fully realizes growth opportunities resulting from the "strong product innovation pipeline."

Microsoft plans to release new versions of its SQL Server database software and Visual Studio development tools later this year. New versions of Office and the Windows desktop operating system are due in the second half of next year, followed by a major new release of Windows Server in 2007.

Turner most recently served as president and CEO at Wal-Mart's Sam's Club division, the No. 2 retail wholesale club chain behind Costco Wholesale Corp. A 19-year Wal-Mart employee, Turner joined the retailer as an hourly associate while he was a student at East Central University in Ada, Okla.

After graduating in 1987 with a bachelor of science degree in management, Turner moved to the company's Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, where he worked in the corporate and internal audit department. He joined the information systems division in 1989 and continued to advance, attaining the position of CIO at Wal-Mart Stores in 2000. He was plucked to head the Sam's Club division in August 2002.

Turner's appointment means a change at the top of Microsoft's worldwide sales, marketing and services organization. Kevin Johnson, the group vice president who headed that organization for more than three years, will be named to an unspecified senior executive role. Microsoft said the details will be announced within 30 days. Johnson will continue in his current job through Sept. 30, working with Turner to ensure a smooth transition, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft's revenue grew by more than $7 billion in the last three years under Johnson's tenure. But the company posted single-digit revenue growth, at 8 percent, in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, as sales of its two main products lagged. Windows revenue grew by only 6 percent and Office revenue by 3 percent during the last fiscal year.

The chief operating officer post at Microsoft has been vacant since the departure of Rick Belluzzo, who resigned in May 2002 after a three-year stint at the company. Belluzzo, a former executive at Hewlett-Packard Co. and Silicon Graphics Inc., is now chairman and CEO of Quantum Corp., a data storage vendor.

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