SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) appointed Kevin Turner, a top executive at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), as its new Chief Operating Officer, the world's largest software maker said on Thursday.
The appointment of Turner, 40, who will be in charge of Microsoft's global sales, marketing and service operations, is part of a wider reorganization of executive positions, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in a statement.
Wal-Mart, in a separate announcement, said that Doug McMillon would replace Turner as head of its Sam's Club warehouse stores.
Microsoft's COO job, considered the No. 3 position after Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, has been vacant since 2002, when Rick Belluzzo left the position.
"That number three job at Microsoft is a tough position to be in," said Matt Rosoff, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, an independent research firm in Kirkland, Washington.
Belluzzo, a former Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ.N: Quote, Profile, Research) executive, left Microsoft three years ago after being pushed out as part of a wider reorganization that made the company's major product groups more autonomous.
Belluzzo also held the title of president, but Turner was not named president in Thursday's announcement.
"Turner's experience as a proven leader of people in Wal-Mart's incredibly dynamic sales environment; his IT background as CIO of a world-class company and his familiarity with our products and technologies as a Microsoft customer for more than a decade uniquely qualify him to serve as our COO," Ballmer, according to companywide e-mail obtained by Reuters.
Turner will effectively replace Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's group vice president in charge of sales and marketing, who will be moving into a new executive role at Microsoft.
Ballmer said in his e-mail that Johnson's new role would be announced with a month.
Rosoff, who has been tracking Microsoft's human resources for year, said that these changes could be part of a wider reorganization at the top.
"There might be an executive departure that we haven't heard of yet," Rosoff said.
At Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart, Turner was considered a rising star and even a possible successor to Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. He oversaw a turnaround at Sam's Club, which had been losing ground to larger rival Costco Wholesale Corp.
Under his tenure, Sam's Club aggressively cut prices to win over coveted small-business customers, heaping pressure on Costco's profits. SOURCE