Microsoft named a new head for its international operations on Monday, in a move that underscores the software maker's increasing focus on global sales, and emerging markets in particular.

Jean-Philippe Courtois has been promoted from chief executive officer of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to the new president of Microsoft International and senior vice president of Microsoft. His ascension marks the first time that Microsoft has put someone in charge of day-to-day international operations outside of the company's headquarters.

Courtois, based in Paris, will now oversee the company's operations across EMEA, Japan, China, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America, with a concentration on the public sector and emerging markets. In his former role, Courtois caught the attention of Redmond through his handling of growth markets in Europe and Africa, and through the alliances he formed in the public sector.

"Jean-Philippe has been a slick operator and done a good job getting results in Europe when other companies were complaining that it was a soft market," said RedMonk LLC analyst James Governor.

Establishing relationships

Courtois has been active in establishing relationships with global leaders, serving as co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Global Digital Divide Initiative Task Force and a member of the South African International Advisory Council on Information Society and Development, Microsoft said.

Growth markets have represented a growing percentage of Microsoft's sales as the software maker faces saturation in more mature markets. The public sector has also presented increasing opportunities for the company as government agencies are often the biggest consumer of IT in any market.

But strength in these sectors can depend on the ability to forge local partnerships, and Microsoft ascribes this talent to Courtois.

This concentration on the public sector and growth markets is critical for Microsoft, especially when facing open-source competitors in Europe, Governor said.

As Courtois looks further afield, Neil Holloway has been appointed as the new president of Microsoft EMEA. Holloway was formerly corporate vice president of sales, marketing and services in the region. He will report to Courtois.