Does ‘Unlimited Potential’ Have Limits?

A senior Microsoft executive who played a key part in the development of Windows Vista plans to retire this fall and in the meantime is taking on a new job, the company has confirmed.

Will Poole – a 12-year Microsoft veteran – is currently corporate vice president of the Unlimited Potential Group (UPG). As such, he co-leads the group, along with senior vice president Orlando Ayala.

The UPG “is tasked with creating new business models and technology solutions tailored specifically for the needs of customers in underserved communities” around the world, according to Poole’s Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) biography online.

“Through the expansion of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program, the company is renewing and accelerating its long-term commitment to use technology, training and partnerships to transform education, foster local innovation, and enable jobs and opportunities to sustain a continuous cycle of social and economic growth for everyone,” the bio continued.

Poole’s reassignment and retirement come as part of a larger reshuffling within UPG that will also see other senior executives moved around.

Prior to joining UPG, Poole headed Microsoft’s Windows client business during the development of Vista. In fact, some of his e-mails turned up, embarrassingly enough, in 158 pages of e-mails and other documents in evidence unsealed by the judge in the ongoing “Windows Capable” class action lawsuit.

Before the Windows client assignment, Poole was in charge of the Windows New Media Platforms Division, which included the Digital Media Division, the Windows eHome Division and the Windows Trusted Platforms Technology Group.

Until he leaves the company this fall, Poole will report to chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie, working on the leadership transition for the Unlimited Potential Group as well as on cross-group strategic initiatives, a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mail to

Ayala’s job will also change. He will report to chief operating officer Kevin Turner, working in the Sales, Marketing, and Services Group. Ayala, who joined Microsoft in 1991, has some experience in that role. He was previously senior vice president for the South Pacific and Americas region and group vice president of the worldwide Sales, Marketing and Services Group, according to his Microsoft biography online.

“In his expanded role, Orlando [Ayala] will also work closely with Jean-Philippe Courtois, president, Microsoft International, and other field leaders to ensure Microsoft is able to leverage growth opportunities and address competitive challenges,” the spokesperson said.

The UPG will be headed by corporate vice president Anoop Gupta, who will report up to Mundie. Gupta, who had been corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group for four years until a year ago, joined the company as a researcher in Microsoft Research Division in 1997. Prior to that, he was a computer science professor at Stanford University, according to his Microsoft biography.

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