The US Department of Justice has retained a financial advisory company to assist in analysing possible remedies in its ongoing antitrust trial against Microsoft.
Microsoft also may be making moves in regard to the case: Last week, company officials announced a flurry of management and organisational changes that some observers said could be linked to the Justice Department's move.
Two days after the Justice Department and Microsoft met with a court-appointed mediator, the Justice Department chose Greenhill & Co. to help the department's antitrust division investigate the financial aspects of potential solutions to the lawsuit. Greenhill & Co. specialises in advising on corporate mergers and acquisitions, as well as real-estate investment banking.
Microsoft's claim that its organisational changes were unrelated to these developments -- it said that they are designed to help users -- were not accepted by some observers. The observers pointed out that this is the second executive shuffle this year at Microsoft, which generally does that sort of housecleaning annually.
"Part of this reorganisation, I think, is to make the breakup more difficult," said Rob Enderle, an analyst at Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, Calif. "It was going to be easy to separate the [consumer] Windows and corporate versions of the platforms before they did this. But now they have brought them all back together underneath the same fold. I'm not convinced this isn't a pre-emptive strike."
Under the changes, Jim Allchin was promoted to group vice president of the Platforms Group with responsibility for the Windows line and streaming media. He previously led development and marketing of the company's high-end systems software, including Windows 2000.
Allchin said the Consumer Windows Division and Business and Enterprise Division have been combined to create the Windows Division, headed by Brian Valentine.
Also, Bob Muglia was promoted to group vice president of the Business Productivity Group and is in charge of developing Microsoft Office, the BackOffice line, and software for "productivity appliances" such as handheld PCs and electronic books. He had been senior vice president of the former Applications and Tools Group.
Muglia said the company has created a Small Business Division designed to pull together electronic-commerce and knowledge-worker services for small businesses. That division also will include bCentral, a Web-based business portal.
Microsoft also renamed the Consumer and Commerce Group as the Consumer Group. The group, headed by Vice President Rick Belluzzo, also has been realigned. Belluzzo said that the group will now have seven divisions, among them Consumer Services, Home and Retail, and the Microsoft Network.
Nancy Weil and Clare Haney, at the IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate, contributed to this article.