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Former SGI CEO Richard Belluzzo has joined Microsoft as group veep for the software giant’s consumer and commerce arm, which includes subsidiaries MSN and WebTV Networks Inc.

In his new post, Belluzzo will help oversee the division, seen as Microsoft’s interactive unit, which plans to expand its online efforts in the interactive TV market. WebTV currently has 800,000 subscribers. He will report directly to Microsoft Corp. prexy Steve Ballmer.

Headless arm

The division has operated without a leader for nearly a year, after Pete Higgins ankled his post in late 1998. Higgins was head of the company’s interactive media group, which was folded into the consumer and commerce unit after a reorganization in March.

Besides Belluzzo’s appointment, Brad Chase and Jon DeVaan also have been upped to senior VPs of the division.

Belluzzo ankled his post at SGI, which provides hardware to Hollywood’s visual f/x market, in an unexpected departure in August, just after the high-end computer hardware maker said that it would reorganize its divisions and layoff 17% of its work force, a loss of 1,500 jobs.

Microsoft and SGI are not competitors.