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Saturday, April 22, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Former Ask.com president will join Microsoft

Seattle Times technology reporter

Microsoft has hired the former president of search rival Ask.com to run its online business group, overseeing the MSN and Windows Live units and playing a big role in the company's move to the Web.

Steve Berkowitz will start May 8 in the senior vice president position vacated by David Cole, who is taking a one-year leave starting next month. It's unclear if Cole plans to return to Microsoft or in what capacity.

On Friday afternoon, when Microsoft announced the hire, Berkowitz was still listed as the chief executive of IAC Search & Media, a unit of online conglomerate InterActiveCorp. Berkowitz was formerly the president of Ask.com, the Web search site acquired by IAC last year. Until recently, was known as AskJeeves.

Before coming to IAC, Berkowitz was the president and chief operating officer of IDG Books, which publishes the "Dummies" series.

He was not available to comment on his new job Friday. He will report to Kevin Johnson, co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, which houses the Windows operation.

In an e-mail to employees Friday, Johnson called Berkowitz "a proven leader" with skills that include brand building, operations, finance and people management. Johnson also lauded Berkowitz's deep knowledge of the search and Internet business and understanding of the online and offline publishing worlds.

In his new position, Berkowitz will have a major say in the development of Microsoft's online advertising business — a huge focus for the company right now.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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