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Summary:

The hardware giant, which is trying to build up its power base in software and cloud, brings Microsoft’s former software-and-cloud guy on as a director.

Ray Ozzie

Hewlett-Packard’s board, the subject of much criticism over the past few years, just got three more members, including former Microsoft chief software strategist and software superstar Ray Ozzie.  The other new directors are Robert “Dob” Bennett, who was formerly president and CEO of Liberty Media, and James Skinner, former vice chairman and CEO of McDonald’s and now chairman of Walgreen.

The appointments are effective as of Monday. Ozzie left Microsoft in 2010 after five years spent driving that company’s move to the cloud. He has since founded Talko, a mysterious company working on “something mobile.”

According to HP’s statement:

Over the coming months, the board will continue to search for additional world-class directors as well as a permanent non-executive chairman. Ralph V. Whitworth will continue to serve as chairman of the board on an interim basis.

HP is no stranger to Microsoft or its execs. Bill Veghte, a long-time Microsoft exec, is COO and last year HP CEO Meg Whitman tapped former Microsoft hand Robert Youngjohns to lead the problematic Autonomy software division.

HP is also navigating a tricky course vis-a-vis long-time PC-and-server partner Microsoft. Microsoft has started to make its own tablet hardware, a move that angered hardware OEMs like HP. And HP has launched its own OpenStack-based public cloud that competes with MIcrosoft Windows Azure. This “coopetition” is bound to heat up going forward. HP has also struggled with its mobile plan of action, wavering on whether or not to offer smartphones. Ozzie might be able to help with that quandary.

HP’s board, which has been changing piecemeal, is a focal point. The fact that an older iteration approved the troubled $10-billion-plus acquisition of Autonomy in 2011, raised many eyebrows. Even at the time, most observers felt the price was way too high, something that subsequently became apparent to everyone.

  1. Smart move for the H-P board. Ray is a solid leader in the enterprise space. Maybe he can help H-P get back into the enterprise software business where they belong.

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