Microsoft has named a senior Wal-Mart executive as its new chief operating officer, considered to be the third most senior role at the firm.
Kevin Turner will take charge of the software operator's global sales, marketing and services activities.
The post has been vacant since 2002 when Rick Belluzzo left the company following a reorganisation.
Mr Turner will report to chief executive Steve Ballmer and chairman Bill Gates.
Mr Turner, 40, has worked for Wal-Mart for almost 20 years - most recently running Sam's Club, a chain of warehouse stores owned by the world's largest retailer.
In a statement, Microsoft said it would benefit from Mr Turner's experience, track record of success and passion for technology.
"More than ever, Microsoft's growth opportunities abound as a result of our strong product innovation pipeline," Mr Ballmer said, reports BBC.
According to Inquirer, the job is considered to be the number three after Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and has been vacant since 2002 after Rick Belluzzo was pushed out.
Belluzzo said his job was superfluous as the role was dominated by Gates and Ballmer so he went and did something more useful.
Turner on the other hand seems to be a bit of a Wal-Mart star. Under his regime Sam's Club, which had been losing ground to a larger rival Costco, turned its fortunes around by slashing prices.
It will be interesting to see if he applies the same strategy to Vista to counter Linux, or if Steve and Bill will let him do anything.
Turner will receive an annual salary of $570,000 and 320,000 shares. He may get a bonus of as much as 100 percent of his salary and a stock award of 624,000 based on performance goals.
Among Turner's first priorities will be the release of Microsoft's new Windows program and an updated version of its database software.
Microsoft last week released the first test version of its new Windows for personal computers, called Windows Vista. The program is planned for late 2006 and adds features that improve computer security and search. Microsoft needs the new program to reverse declining growth in its Windows for PC unit, which hasn't released a completely new Windows since 2001.
The company also plans to begin selling a new SQL database server in November, a successor to the SQL 2000 product that has been taking sales from Oracle Corp. The new Xbox 360 will be available for Christmas, six months ahead of the competing machine from Sony Corp, informs Bloomberg.
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