Microsoft's Ballmer makes changes in Windows Phone leadership

Summary:Microsoft named Terry Myerson head of Windows Phone and is moving former chief Andy Lees to a new role that will involve Windows 8 and Windows Phone in some way in 2012.

Microsoft is changing Windows Phone chiefs, as first reported by AllThingsD on December 12.

Corporate Vice President Terry Myerson, who led engineering efforts for the phone unit, is moving to head Windows Phone. Myerson won't get the "President" title right away (but could at some point).

Current Windows Phone division President Andy Lees is being moved to a new role, reporting directly to CEO Steve Ballmer, according to an email from Ballmer. Lees' new job will be focused on something having to do with Windows Phone and Windows 8 in 2012. All of Lees' direct reports are moving to Myerson.

Microsoft veteran Lees has been the head of Microsoft's mobile unit since 2008, when Pieter Knook left. Lees was named one of Microsoft's Presidents in October 2010.

Microsoft is believed to be swapping out the Windows Embedded Compact core in Windows Phone for a Windows-based (MinWin) one in order to more closely align the two platforms, and to give developers a single, unified platform to which they can code. That change could happen as early as mid- to fall-2012 when Microsoft is expected to launch Windows Phone 8, which will run an operating system codenamed "Apollo."

Here's Ballmer's December 12 e-mail to the troops on the change:

To: All Microsoft Employees

From: Steve Ballmer Subj: Leadership Next Steps – Windows Phone Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011

We are driving toward the end of the year with a lot of momentum and buzz, especially in the consumer arena. The new Xbox dashboard is being well received, Kinect and Xbox consoles set a record for Black Friday weekend sales, the Windows Store news from last week delighted developers and partners, Windows Phone 7.5 continues to win reviews, and the Nokia Lumia series has grabbed a ton of attention in Europe, creating anticipation for availability in other geographies next year.

As I look at where we are, what we’ve done, and what we must do in the year ahead, I’m making two leadership changes to ensure we build on our momentum. First, I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.

Second, as Andy takes on these new challenges for the company, Terry Myerson will assume Andy’s existing responsibilities for leading the Windows Phone Division. As many of you know, Terry played a key and highly successful role working with Andy by leading the engineering work on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. Terry will now be responsible for Windows Phone development, marketing, and other business functions. Because Terry has been so integrally involved in our Windows Phone work already, I’m confident that he can make a seamless transition to this new and broader leadership responsibility.

Both these changes take place immediately.

I want to personally thank Andy for his contributions to the phone team. In the three years Andy has been leading the phone group, we’ve come a long way – we reset our strategy, built a strong team that delivered WP7 and WP7.5 and created critical new partnerships and ecosystem around Windows Phone. That is a ton of progress in a brief period of time, and I’m excited for Terry and team to keep driving forward and for Andy to dig into a new challenge.

It is amazing to pause and look back at what we’ve accomplished as a company this year, from our incredible product momentum to the formation of several powerful partnerships and the overall strength of our leadership team. And you know I’m a look-forward kind of person, so when I look forward to 2012, I see even more opportunity and potential in what we have planned.

Steve

Windows Phone has lost marketshare this year, in spite of the launch of a number of new handsets and a solid "Mango" release. Like a number of my readers, I'm wondering how much of an impact in the U.S. Nokia will have -- and when. I also wonder when Microsoft will be adding more Windows Phone features that enterprise users are requesting.

Topics: CXO, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Telcos, Windows

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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