Another senior exec leaves Microsoft

The revolving door keeps turning as Craig Mundie, head of Microsoft Research and once one of Bill Gates' handpicked successors, will be leaving the company

One of Microsoft's most accomplished and experienced executives, and head of Microsoft Research, Craig Mundie is on his way out.

His departure was divulged within Microsoft in a Dec. 14 email from Steve Ballmer, but oddly it didn't come to the world's attention until Ina Fried at All Things D broke the story on Dec. 24. Fried confirmed the change by consulting Mundie's newly updated biography on the Microsoft website. Bloomberg has since reproduced the memo.

Mundie has maintained a relatively low profile for many years, but his appearance at a briefing at Microsoft Research Asia, in Beijing, drew world headlines when he demoed a Mandarin-speaking babel fish. Mundie spoke in English, and his lifelike avatar translated the words into Mandarin, using Mundie's voice. "I should be able to sit in my office, send my avatar to meet somebody in Beijing, and I can speak in English and the avatar speaks in Mandarin in real-time... We want the computer to be a simultaneous translator."

His departure marks (yet another) end of an era at Microsoft. When Bill Gates announced his "transition" out of the Microsoft hot seat in 2006, he appointed Craig Mundie and Ray Ozzie as technology heirs apparent. Microsoft's press release at the time put it this way:

Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on all technical architecture and product oversight responsibilities, to ensure a smooth transition. Similarly, Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will work closely with Gates to assume his responsibility for the company's research and incubation efforts; Mundie also will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsoft's intellectual property and technology policy efforts.

Ozzie left two years ago.

Mundie's never been in the running to replace Ballmer -- which is why he doesn't appear in my "Game of Thrones" list. He's seven years older than Ballmer and doesn't have the larger-than-life personality or stage presence Ballmer commands. But he's yet another highly experienced exec on his way out of the Microsoft revolving door.

According to the internal memo, Mundie will spend a year as "senior advisor to the CEO," then retire when he reaches 65 in 2014. (It seems that most execs at Microsoft get an extra year on the payroll to wind down -- at least, it's been that way since Brad Silverberg and then Jim Allchin each received a "leave of absence" in the late '90s.)

Eric Rudder replaces Mundie. Although his job title apparently hasn't changed -- Microsoft still lists him as Chief Technical Strategy Officer -- Rudder has assumed responsibilities as head of Microsoft Research. Ten years ago Rudder was senior VP and head of the Developer and Platform Evangelism unit of the Platforms Group. He then became head of the Servers and Tools division. At that time, Matt Rosoff, who was then an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, put it this way: "Eric Rudder is somewhat of an unknown quantity... He's not somebody who has shipped a whole lot of product on time or met a whole lot of revenue goals...But he must have been doing something right over the last year from the executives' perspective."

Apparently Rudder's done even better in the intervening decade.

Rudder's been a tireless advocate for .Net for many years. He was the architect of Visual FoxPro 3. That speaks volumes.

This story, "Another senior exec leaves Microsoft," 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.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform