Microsoft has moved its Unlimited Potential Group (UPG) to Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie's organization and confirmed leadership changes to the group, which oversees Microsoft's efforts to provide technology and education in developing countries.
As part of those changes, current UPG co-leader Will Poole will leave Microsoft in the September-October time frame, the company confirmed on Tuesday. Former unified communications executive Anoop Gupta will replace Poole as corporate vice president of UPG.
Poole joined Microsoft in 1996 when Microsoft bought his company, eShop, and previously was in charge of the Windows client business. According to Microsoft, he is leaving the company to pursue philanthropic and entrepreneurial interests, and will help with the leadership transition in his remaining time at the company.
Gupta will report to Mundie, whose organization is now overseeing UPG; previously, the team reported to Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner. A spokeswoman from Microsoft's public relations firm said the change was made because Mundie's responsibilities to oversee research and strategy is in line with the UPG's mission to come up with new business models and other creative ways to bring technology to developing countries.
The shuffling also displaces Orlando Ayala, who has shared with Poole responsibilities for leading UPG. According to Microsoft, Ayala will continue to provide evangelism for UPG, but also will take a broader role in COO Turner's organization, working with the president of Microsoft International, Jean-Philippe Courtois, to address Microsoft's expansion efforts overseas.
Microsoft launched the Unlimited Potential effort about a year ago as a program through which it works with community leaders in countries where technology has not yet had an impact on businesses and communities. The program encompasses efforts that were in place before it was launched, such as Partners in Learning, and also includes new efforts Microsoft is making to bring its software and technology to developing nations.
Microsoft has said its plan for UPG is not just to distribute technology, but to work locally in underdeveloped countries to create new business models and educational programs so technology can be developed and sustained by the people living and working there. The company also hopes to proliferate the use of Windows and other Microsoft software in countries that are in the early stages of adopting technology and could be mulling open-source alternatives.