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Rick Rashid, who built and led Microsoft Research for more than two decades, will be leaving the position and joining Microsoft’s new Operating Systems Group.

Peter Lee
New Microsoft Research chief Peter Lee

The change was announced as part of the massive overhaul unveiled by the company this morning, an overall attempt by CEO Steve Ballmer to make Microsoft more nimble and cohesive.

Microsoft says corporate vice president Peter Lee, the DARPA and Carnegie Mellon veteran who previously led Microsoft Research USA, will take Rashid’s former role as the overall leader of Microsoft Research worldwide. Lee will report to Eric Rudder, the head of the company’s Advanced Strategy and Research Group.

Jeannette Wing, another veteran of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science faculty who joined Microsoft earlier this year, will oversee Microsoft’s core research labs around the world as corporate vice president of Microsoft Research, reporting to Lee. Wing, who also has worked for the National Science Foundation, had been the head of Microsoft Research International.

Microsoft Research focuses on basic research, separate from the company’s product groups. The technologies it develops often make their way into the company’s products, but the company has been under pressure at times to tighten the connections between research and product groups, to get the researchers’ ideas to market faster.

Here’s an excerpt from Ballmer’s email employees about the changes …

“Microsoft Research is an invaluable strategic asset to our company. As we move forward, we need best-in-class capability to look ahead and adapt to change. Thankfully, Rick has built a deep bench of leadership and research talent. With Peter Lee and Jeannette Wing taking the helm, we’ll continue to look to Microsoft Research for insight and invention to help shape our strategy and our offerings.”

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