Microsoft's reorg prelude? Andy Lees has left the building

Keep an eye on those deck chairs -- former Microsoft president Andy Lees heads out 'on sabbatical'

As of this writing, Microsoft hasn't confirmed the move, but Mike Isaac at AllThingsD reports that Andy Lees -- former Windows Phone president, as well as current VP of Microsoft corporate strategy and development -- will go "on sabbatical to return to his family in the United Kingdom, and will announce his new position at Microsoft later in the summer." Microsoft pulled Lees's bio from its Leadership site overnight; expect it to be replaced shortly.

For those keeping track, the batting average for Microsoft execs leaving "on sabbatical" and returning to do anything worthwhile hovers around zero, possibly lower.

Lees had a long and illustrious career with Microsoft. Most notably, he was president of the Windows Phone division back in the Windows Phone 7 days, and he held the position through the early months of the tumultous Steve Sinofsky Windows 8 turf wars. Although insiders haven't divulged the details, when Sinofsky pushed to have Windows Phone absorbed into the Windows 8 borg, Lees left Windows Phone, put in a vaguely defined position reporting to Ballmer himself. As I mentioned earlier this month, "Lees has been a stalwart Ballmer supporter for many years. The fact that Lees dodged Steve Sinofsky's attempts to swallow the phone effort and that Ballmer found a way to tuck Lees away in the organization while sparks were flying speak volumes."

More telling, Windows Phone 7 -- the phone Andy built -- still has almost the same market share as Windows Phone 8, according to Alex Wilhelm at TNW, as much as folks in Redmond hate to admit it.

In November 2012, Lees officially lost his "president" title and went to work as corporate VP in charge of corporate strategy and development. He was placed under CFO Peter Klein, who was replaced by Amy Hood last month. As corporate VP, Lees had two lieutenants: Marc Brown as head of corporate development, and Charlie Songhurst, head of corporate strategy. Both Brown and Songhurst remain; they now report directly to Hood. Think of Lees as collateral damage of the Sinofsky years.

The deck chairs remain in motion. I'm still pulling for Satya Nadella as head of the "services" part of the reimagined "devices and services" company and Don Mattrick for the "devices" branch. No doubt there will be more than two divisional execs, although their roles are hard to discern at this point. Perhaps Qi Lu will go on beyond Bing and Tony Bates beyond Skype.

I haven't a clue how the organization surrounding Kurt "Mr. Office" DelBene will fall, but the fact that Microsoft is now giving away Office with new sub-10-inch tablet versions of Windows 8 doesn't bode well for the old cash cow finding a fancy new feedlot. Similarly, Dynamics under Kirill Tatarinov sits off in a land of its own.

Will Windows Phone end up under Windows? For that matter, will Windows go under Nadella? Inquiring minds want to know. Don't settle into your seat yet.

This article, "Microsoft's reorg prelude? Andy Lees has left the building," 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 business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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