Looking at post-cuts Microsoft: Who’s safe, who’s not?

Of the 18,000 jobs Microsoft will cut in the upcoming year, a good chunk — 12,500 — will come from “aligning” the Nokia Devices and Services business Microsoft bought in April.

So, what other groups are in jeopardy? Insiders have been handicapping that for months now, and the consensus is that folks working in the new designated “core” areas — those run by Scott Guthrie and Qi Lu — are safer than others.

Guthrie, EVP of  enterprise and cloud, is both a Microsoft vet and a rising star under new CEO Satya Nadella. He “owns” Azure cloud infrastructure, Windows Server, SQL Server database, Active Directory, .NET and the systems center management tools franchise. That’s all key backend stuff that will act as the foundation for the company’s plan to support service delivery to all manner of devices — even those not running Windows.

And Qi Lu, EVP of applications and services, per his corporate bio:

“sets the vision, strategy, and overall direction of the Applications and Services group, and is responsible for all of the research and development teams across Microsoft Office, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, Yammer, Lync, Skype, Bing, Bing Apps, MSN and the Advertising platforms and business group.”

He spent a decade at Yahoo!(s yhoo) and also worked at IBM(s ibm) research before joining Microsoft.

As we saw from Nadella’s memo last week and his Worldwide Partner Conference keynote Wednesday, Microsoft is all about providing productivity across multiple screens. He said:

“We are going to have our experiences on all platforms. That means every home screen out there. Our aspiration is to have one or many Microsoft icons, Microsoft digital experiences. They’re all entry points for us as an ecosystem. So that means we get to have an opportunity to be able to have anyone entering from any device into our ecosystem. That’s our promise with which we’ll move forward. “

Extrapolating from that, insiders said folks in Terry Myerson’s org should be wary. Myerson is EVP of operating systems including Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox, according to his bio, but that may change with the latest shakeout.

Expect COO Kevin Turner’s  group which includes sales, to take big hits too, all in service of flattening and streamlining the organization as Nadella outlined in his memo last week in which he promised “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.”

He added: “This includes flattening organizations and increasing the span of control of people managers. In addition, our business processes and support models will be more lean and efficient with greater trust between teams.” Aka, One (albeit smaller)  Microsoft.

A recently-departed Microsoft employee said via email that the sales organization could stand some cuts:

“The sales force has been built over the last 30 years expecting to need lots of bodies to get out there and sell Office and Windows to Enterprises. That model and world are changing, so there could be large contraction on the ‘KT’ [Kevin Turner] side of the house. MS always had a lot of open positions floating around, so if engineers (good ones) were impacted but a layoff, they could easily move to other teams.”

Stay tuned for more reverbs in upcoming days, but if you want to hear more about Guthrie’s worldview, check out the video of his recent Gigaom Structure talk below:

This story was updated several times as new information became available.