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Patty Stonesifer's job is to turn Microsoft, the software company, into Microsoft, the media company.

Put in charge of the newly created Interactive Media Division early this year, Ms. Stonesifer manages Microsoft's high-profile content initiatives, including Microsoft Network, the MSNBC cable/Web venture, Michael Kinsley's Slate Web zine and a string of new games titles. She also oversees strategic partnerships, such as an interactive games deal she negotiated with Hollywood producer DreamWorks SKG.

Ms. Stonesifer's success is no sure bet. While the company dominates the operating systems and applications business, Microsoft's record as a content company is decidedly mixed.

So what's Ms. Stonesifer's claim to fame? She manages to fix some of Microsoft's toughest problems.

In 1990, Bill Gates spotted Ms. Stonesifer, then general manager of the company's book publishing division, and within weeks sent her off to tackle Microsoft Canada.

A year later, Mr. Gates brought her back to headquarters to fix Microsoft's overwhelmed, unresponsive customer-support operation.

Next stop was Microsoft's tiny Consumer Division. Ms. Stonesifer had one flop-Bob, the company's animated computer interface-and championed a subbrand, Microsoft Home, that has all but disappeared. But Ms. Stonesifer over two years also ran Microsoft to the No. 2 spot in consumer software.

Betcha didn't know: Credit Sambo's restaurants for giving Ms. Stonesifer her start in computers. After college, she got a job editing a newsletter for the chain. Her career took a turn when she began writing manuals for Sambo's computer department.

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