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Friday, November 07, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

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Microsoft mobile-technology expert leaving

By Kim Peterson
Seattle Times technology reporter

Juha Christensen plans to start his own Bay Area company.
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Juha Christensen, a Microsoft executive who helped turn the company into a contender in the mobile arena, will leave by Dec. 1 to start his own business in the Bay Area.

The loss could bring some instability to Microsoft's mobile-devices division, which suffered reorganizations and product delays but seemed to be finally gaining strong momentum, analysts said yesterday.

"The fact that Juha is leaving is certainly not the best news for Windows Mobile or for the mobility team," said Kevin Burden, an analyst at IDC, a technology market-research company. "They were at a point now where they were getting some significant wins."

The mobile market is on the verge of major growth, Burden said, and the fact that Microsoft might have another shakeup within the unit is not good news.

In a statement, Microsoft praised Juha for "great work creating business momentum" for the mobile-devices division. "We're sorry to see him go but are looking for opportunities to partner with him on his new ventures," the company said.

Christensen, 38, joined Microsoft in September 2000 as corporate vice president of the company's mobile-devices marketing group. He was a co-founder of Symbian, a mobile software company backed by some of the biggest players in the industry.

Luring Christensen away from Symbian was a coup for Microsoft, and his arrival immediately brought some legitimacy to the company's work in the mobile-device business. His duties included developing key partnerships, landing new business and overseeing product marketing for the division.

Christensen's team most recently developed the first Windows Smartphone for the North American market. The $300 phone, made by Motorola with service from AT&T Wireless, went on sale last month in the United States. It uses Windows Mobile software.

The team had suffered setbacks as well, including years of false starts in introducing a Smartphone to the U.S. market. Microsoft had planned to debut a Smartphone in 2001 with British mobile-phone maker Sendo. That deal fizzled when Sendo sued Microsoft for stealing trade secrets. The case is still pending in U.S. federal court.

Christensen declined to be interviewed Microsoft said he plans to start a Bay Area company focused on creating Web services for wireless devices.

Web services are hot these days. The technology allows computers and devices to talk with each other over the Internet, and is aimed at translating different computing languages to make it easier for machines to share data.

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Christensen's new company will have an office in Copenhagen, home to some of the Danish national's relatives. Microsoft said it might work with the company.

Microsoft has not named a successor to Christensen. Employees who had reported to him will report to Pieter Knook, senior vice president of Microsoft's mobile and embedded group.

Microsoft emphasized that mobile devices will continue to be a key focus of the company.

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

North Carolina settlement

may approach $90 million

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft will settle a consumer lawsuit for as much as $89 million that claims the company violated North Carolina's antitrust and unfair-competition laws.

Microsoft will provide vouchers to consumers that can be used to purchase computer hardware and software. The total value may be as much as $89 million.

The settlement was announced last month along with similar agreements in four other states and the District of Columbia that totaled $200 million. Yesterday's announcement disclosed the amount Microsoft will pay to resolve the North Carolina suit.

— Bloomberg News

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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