Chris CaposselaMicrosoft announced today that it has appointed Chris Capossela to Chief Marketing Officer and senior vice president of Consumers Channels and Central Marketing Group.

The newly created Consumer Channels Group will combine Microsoft’s Retail, Mobile Operator and Distribution teams into one organization. In this position, Capossela will work with Microsoft’s partners to create new business opportunities and consumer experiences through Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox and Office. He will also be responsible for Microsoft’s marketing, advertising and corporate communications. Mr. Capossela is replacing Mich Mathews, who stepped down from the position less than a week ago.

Capossela, a one-time Bill Gate’s speech assistant, has been with Microsoft for 20 years, and previously served as senior vice president in the Microsoft Office Division.

He was instrumental in bringing Microsoft Office into the cloud with Office Web Apps and Office 365, and his appointment and the consolidation of the Consumer Channels Group may signal Microsoft’s focus on retail and mobile. Microsoft Kinect sales topped 10 million last month, breaking a world record for fastest selling consumer device, and Xbox 360 sales increased by 42 percent in 2010. The company’s efforts in mobile have also been well documented, most notably in their recent partnership with Nokia.

Capossela will need to make a Microsoft relevant again, which will not be easy for a company that has historically failed at marketing. He can start with changing the titles of some company positions, particularly at Microsoft retail stores. In contrast to Apple, which enjoys giving nicer sounding titles such as Apple Store Genius, Microsoft calls the same position Retail Technical Advisor.

Microsoft will need a strong presence in the executive team, having lost a number of high ranking employees in recent times, including Bob Muglia, the president of its server and tools business, chief software architect Ray Ozzie, and head of business division Stephen Elop.