Big changes at Microsoft's entertainment and mobile division

The rumours have been building for a couple of days that J Allard, senior VP of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, was about to jump or be jumped. As Allard is known as one of the major protagonists behind both XBox and Zune, this is no small matter.

The rumours have been building for a couple of days that J Allard, senior VP of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, was about to jump or be jumped. As Allard is known as one of the major protagonists behind both XBox and Zune, this is no small matter.

Today, his departure was confirmed.

What wasn't expected was the simultaneous departure of his boss, Robbie Bach, who's been president of the division for five years - and just to up the ante, neither will be replaced. Instead, the Xbox, Zune and Windows Mobile heads will report directly to Steve Ballmer, making this one of the biggest reorganisations within Microsoft for some years.

Another curious change is David Treadwell, currently corporate VP of Live Platform Services, to lead the core technology group inside Interactive Entertainment - ie, XBox. Some heavy duty cloud action may be expected.

All this is being spun by Microsoft's corporate communication as perfectly natural in no way indicative of anybody doing anything they didn't want to do, and part of the ongoing success story of all things the company cares to try.

Indeed, Bach told Seattle site TechFlash that even Windows Mobile was doing better than it may appear - and it appears to be doing very badly, dropping four percent in US market share between October 2009 and January 2010 - to 15.7 percent.

"It's one of those funny things where it depends on what metric you look at," Bach said when asked about that trend. "If you just were to look at just market share, you'd say, hey, we still have some challenges. When you look at what I see in the products going forward, the engagement we're getting from (phone makers), the engagement we're getting from operators, I have real optimism and think the business is in a very good space."

Which may be so, but I worry that the only engagement Microsoft is getting from most operators is the engaged tone when Redmond tries to call but they're already on the line to Mountain View.

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