Craig Mundie | Company envoy will keep that role

Craig Mundie's new role at Microsoft is a natural outgrowth of what he was already doing at the company as an adviser to Bill Gates on policy, technology and business strategy globally.

He led Microsoft into emerging markets, including China, one of several places around the world where Microsoft is in a stronger position than it was five or six years ago.

"I think Craig gets a lot of the credit for that," said Brad Silverberg, a Seattle venture capitalist and former Microsoft executive.

Mundie travels at least as much as any other Microsoft executive and will continue to do so as the company's primary ambassador — a public function that's more important today than ever as Microsoft sees the majority of its growth opportunities in developing economies.

"It's very much a diplomatic mission," said technology analyst Mark Anderson. "[Mundie], definitely, of the team now, is best qualified to do that work."

Mundie said Microsoft's business in India, China, Russia and other emerging economies is starting to mature.

"That allows me to cut back a little bit on how much time I personally have to spend in each of those places," he said this summer.

That's helping him free up time in his schedule to take over more of Gates' responsibilites.

On the technical side, Mundie is charged with looking over the horizon to help point Microsoft in the right direction to take advantage of trends such as the multi-core processors being introduced by Intel and AMD.

Mundie's background in the high-performance computing community serves him well in this endeavor, said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research and a close colleague of Mundie's since shortly after Mundie joined Microsoft in 1992.

"He's been plugged into some of the smartest people in the world over the years," Rashid said.

Mundie oversees Rashid's research group and Microsoft's new businesses in areas such as health care and education. Rashid said he is well-suited to the task of looking across the company and across industries to choose areas where Microsoft should be investing next.

"Craig is ... always trying to see what's the next move, what happens after that," Rashid said.

— Benjamin J. Romano