More Microsoft exec departures mark end of a Windows era

With Jon DeVaan and Grant George officially retired and most of rest of Windows 8 team out to pasture, Microsoft silently acknowledges complete lack of faith in Windows 8

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  • Chris Jones was in charge of Windows Live -- which is now dead -- as well as Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger, all of which are in various stages of molting. He was the sole managerial holdover from the Vista team that remained at the start of the Sinofsky era. Right now, it's unclear how (or if) he'll participate in the next versions of Windows.
  • As head of the Internet Explorer team, Dean Hachamovich contributed to the Windows 8 effort, but he was always viewed as something of an outsider -- which isn't necessarily bad. In November, Hachamovich announced he was headed to greener pastures, but details about his next stint at "something new" inside Microsoft have never been fleshed out. We'll certainly see more of him, in a different role, in the future.

That leaves the holdout:

  • Where in the world is Antoine Leblond? He took over when Sinofsky left the Office effort, and shipped Office 2010. Then he jumped to the Windows group, FOS in 2010, and was given the dubious honor of keeping Windows Update and other Windows Web services running. Bloomberg's Dina Bass reported in September that he had been switched over to "lining up applications for Windows 8," a thankless task if ever there was one. Of course, Windows chief Terry Myerson knows all about WinRT apps, and as best I can tell he's not said a word about Leblond in the new Windows organization. That's too bad, because as much as many of us enjoy sniping at Leblond's blog posts, he's been a refreshingly straightforward spokesperson for Microsoft all through the Windows 7 and Windows 8 years.

Looking back on all of the recent shifts, I'm struck by four observations.

First, the lack of a Microsoft CEO heir (or at least the public announcement of an heir) hasn't ground Myerson to a halt. He's clearly moving ahead with his vision of where Windows should go.

Second, the anticipated triumvirate of new Windows versions may be disappointing for Windows desktop users. We don't know for sure, but it looks like Microsoft will deliver a "modern" Metro (perhaps "Mod"?) version of Windows aimed for phones and tablets, a "consumer" version that may or may not look like Windows 8.1, and a "traditional" old fogey's version of the desktop. With the old Windows management team gone, it's going to be difficult bringing significant new features to the old fogey's version -- although the Windows Server folks may surprise us.

Third, many long-time Windows developers must be looking for greener pastures. That may not be bad, as Myerson clearly has a very different vision for Windows' future.

Fourth -- this is the point that strikes me hardest -- the wholesale dismemberment of the Windows 8/8.1 management team says in no uncertain terms that the higher-ups at Microsoft, whomever they may be, are extremely disappointed with Windows 8.

I, for one, find that conclusion refreshing.

This story, "More Microsoft exec departures mark end of a Windows era," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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