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  (Source: The Seattle Times)
Former software President Kurt DelBene oversaw Office's cloud evolution, is married to rising Democratic Rep.

U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama (D) announced today at a special meeting that he was tapping former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Office President Kurt DelBene to take on the unenviable job of trying to fix the mess that is Healthcare.gov.  His effort to overhaul the embattled homepage of the public healthcare progam that critics and supporters alike have nicknamed "Obamacare" may well be a tipping point in the program's success or failure.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a press release on the President's behalf:

Kurt DelBene as my Senior Advisor and successor to Jeff Zients. Jeff did an outstanding job working with our team to provide management advice and counsel on the HealthCare.gov project. Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1. I am very grateful for his service and leadership. His role leading the management of the site proved critical and today we are announcing his successor: Kurt DelBene.

Kurt, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will lead and manage HealthCare.gov starting this Wednesday.

In his hunt for a replacement for former Office head Stephen Elop, who would commit to what turned out to be a brief stay as CEO of phonemaker Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V), Steve Ballmer in Sept. 2010 selected Mr. DelBene -- a well-liked project leader.  Observers noted that Mr. DelBene came from an engineering track, not a business background.

Mr. DelBene had been with Microsoft since 1992, leading Exchange Server and Office project teams.  The pick evoked mix reactions.  Some within Microsoft and in the analyst community were unsured at the wisdom of putting someone who wasn't primarily business-minded in charge of such a large and complex unit.

Kurt DelBene
Kurt DelBene, new Obamacare fixer-upper, and former President of Microsoft Office [Image Source: Microsoft]

After the launch of Office 2010, Mr. DelBene's biggest effort while President of the Microsoft divison was in giving Office a fresh coat of cloud paint.  The result -- Office 365 -- has generally been praised and is growing in adoption, although some have complained that mobile clients are feature-deficient, even on Microsoft's own Windows Phones.  He also guided the launch of Office 2013, which also drew relatively good reviews.

While still pretty young in executive years, Mr. DelBene, 53, announced his decision to retire in the wind-up to a leadership shakeup and the software giant.  His last day was Dec. 16.

Mr. DelBene is following in the footsteps ofr Former Windows Server Director Steven von Roekel who was tapped by the President to be the nation's Chief of Information technology in 2011.

The retired Office leader appears to be the cavalry that Microsoft promised up to the Obama administration in Oct.  Ms. Sebelius said that Mr. DelBene "will be a tremendous asset to [the] work" and that he would work on the site for "at least the first half of next year."

Healthcare.gov
This is what users should have been seeing...


After billions spent, the government's effort to build a one-stop shop for health insurance is still flawed, at best.

Healthcare.gov
This is the error that instead greeted many users. [Image Source: ThinkProgress]

Frustrated taxpayers have unleashed some pretty harsh, but humorous parodies in the wake of these bugs.

Healtch.gov 404
[Image Source: DailyClash]

While the site has seen improvements since its Oct. 1 launch in terms of page load times and a lack of visible errors, it still continues to suffer from backend errors, losing user data, according to reports. 

Healthcare.gov fail
[Image Source: InsureBlog]

The site has also been deemed insecure by some experts, who say it could lead to unprecedented leaks of consumer healthcare records, a confidential medical file that's traditional tightly guarded.  But Ms. Sebelius tried to look at the glass-slightly-more-full remarking, "Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched."

Among other things, Mr. DelBene was reportedly a top proponent of the Ribbon UI and the blocky pastel "Modern UI" (aka Metro) -- features that tech fans tend to either love or hate.  It might not be altogether surprising to see a more Metro-styled Healthcare.gov emerged in months to come, perhaps serving as a free sales pitch for the visual style of Windows 8.x.

Credentials aside the appointment may raise a couple of eyebrows as his wife Rep. Suzan Kay DelBene (D-Wash., 1st District), 51, is a rising figure in the Democratic National Party's (DNP) Congressional ranks.  Before running for a state -- and later federal -- office (not to be confused with Office), she also worked at Microsoft, serving as a director of sales and business development from 1989-2007.

Source: HHS





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