Two Major Microsoft Entertainment Execs Depart

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News Posted: Wed, May 26 2010 10:14 AM
As if oftentimes the case, where there is smoke, there is fire short behind. Just a few days after the rumor-mill began to suggest that Microsoft's J Allard, who was senior vice president of Design and Development for Entertainment & Devices, would be leaving Microsoft, that is exactly what has become official. But that's not all.

Microsoft has this week revealed that J Allard is indeed heading for the exits after 19 years at Microsoft, but rather than heading out for good, he'll be taking "an official role as an advisor in a strategic role for CEO Steve Ballmer and his leadership team." Ballmer had only kind words to say about J when making the announcement, saying that "J has brought a game-changing creative magic to Microsoft for years, from Windows to Xbox, from Zune to KIN; he was one of the key drivers in our early work on the Web, and we’re absolutely delighted that J’s role with the company will evolve in a way that lets all of Microsoft benefit from his business insight, technical depth and keen eye for consumer experience."


But that's only half of the major moves being made at Microsoft. The software giant is also saying goodbye to Robbie Bach, who was formerly the resident of the Entertainment and Devices (E&D) Division. That's two key execs in the same division, leaving in the same day. There's no specific link mentioned, but after decades of working together, we hardly think that this is pure coincidence. Speaking of Bach's departure, Ballmer said the following: "For the past 22 years, Robbie has personified creativity, innovation and drive. With this spirit, he has led a division passionately devoted to making Microsoft successful in interactive entertainment and mobility. Robbie’s an amazing business person and close personal friend, which makes his departure a point of sadness for me. However, given the strong leadership team he has built, the business performance of E&D this year and the launches of Windows Phone 7 and ‘Project Natal’ this fall, we are set up well for success as we continue to drive our mobile and entertainment businesses forward."


Bach is scheduled to stay on the payroll through the Fall in order to ensure a "smooth transition," but there are obviously a lot of questions moving forward. These two guys played huge roles in Xbox, Zune, KIN and loads of other Microsoft initiatives. Replacing them will be a serious undertaking, and it's something that Microsoft won't take lightly. Will they bring in designers from Apple, HP or another rival? Pick a new guy or gal from the street? Either way, we could expect some serious changes to come in the company's E&D department.

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Chainzsaw replied on Wed, May 26 2010 10:39 AM

I wonder if they are starting up their own businesses?

If they seem to be quite successful at microsoft, wonder why they are leaving?

Seems like a strange thing to do with Natal coming out the door soon.

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3vi1 replied on Wed, May 26 2010 7:22 PM

>> Seems like a strange thing to do with Natal coming out the door soon.

I think this is probably a mutual thing:

Despite the kind words, Microsoft surely wants these guys out so that they can try to shake things up (companies always think that will help, for some reason).

The problem for MS is that they're nowhere near where they expected to be in the entertainment market at this time. Just a handful of years back, Ballmer would have told you that Nintendo's already dead, Sony's death in the console war is imminent, and that everyone will be using Zunes and other devices running Windows Mobile by 2010.

Instead, Zune and Windows Mobile have almost no market share, and despite a YEAR HEAD START and a boatload of money poured down the drain they are now down to a 12% lead against the PS3 in sales for this generation... and so far behind the Wii that it makes your head spin. Amazingly, the total market value of MS the company is now only 11% above Apple's,

What's in the future for MS? Probably loss of console ground to Nintendo's next box, since they'll come up for hardware refresh first... and even more loss of mobile ground to Android and OSX, And, if history continues to repeat itself, the next Windows version will suck so loudly as to give Android/Linux/OSX another few percent of desktop converts.

I think these two guys are smart to get out now, in a time where they will still be perceived as coming from "the" successful company.

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I wonder if....Instead of a pink slip they got a Red ring of dismissal?

I don't feel any sympathy for these guys, I am sure they are doing very well. Compared to many others across the country. They will probably have it as easy as hitting save and restart!

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AKwyn replied on Thu, May 27 2010 12:54 AM

3vi1:

>> Seems like a strange thing to do with Natal coming out the door soon.

I think this is probably a mutual thing:

Despite the kind words, Microsoft surely wants these guys out so that they can try to shake things up (companies always think that will help, for some reason).

The problem for MS is that they're nowhere near where they expected to be in the entertainment market at this time. Just a handful of years back, Ballmer would have told you that Nintendo's already dead, Sony's death in the console war is imminent, and that everyone will be using Zunes and other devices running Windows Mobile by 2010.

Instead, Zune and Windows Mobile have almost no market share, and despite a YEAR HEAD START and a boatload of money poured down the drain they are now down to a 12% lead against the PS3 in sales for this generation... and so far behind the Wii that it makes your head spin. Amazingly, the total market value of MS the company is now only 11% above Apple's,

What's in the future for MS? Probably loss of console ground to Nintendo's next box, since they'll come up for hardware refresh first... and even more loss of mobile ground to Android and OSX, And, if history continues to repeat itself, the next Windows version will suck so loudly as to give Android/Linux/OSX another few percent of desktop converts.

I think these two guys are smart to get out now, in a time where they will still be perceived as coming from "the" successful company.

Well J. Allard is not technically getting out. I agree with most of what you said, I think the problem is the fact that Microsoft is notable for making buggy, corporate and copied items and many people just don't see themselves as a customer or would even stick with them through the long term, even in 2010. I mean when the Zune was released, many people thought of it and still see it as an iPod clone, even though it had features such as a better interface, and an FM radio. Even thought the Zune HD has many advantages over the iPod touch, it's still behind because of one thing. The iPod brand recognition and the fact that the iPod Touch has a lot of apps on there that can make iPod touch owners hold on to their iPod touch for basically... forever.

I think it's just the way Microsoft's life goes. They're able to make a product that has some advantages over the the iPod or PlayStation/Wii but they're unable to market it right, even though they have billions in marketing dollars. I think the future for MS would be basically a Xbox 360 refresh with a little bit of those juicy DX11 features built into it, I don't think that the Wii 2 will be much of a threat unless they can think of a way to re-revolutionize the motion controls. But with competition in the motion sensing area, I don't know who's going to lose out. But I do think that Microsoft's Project Natal and Sony PlayStation's eye/wand combo are major competitors.

 

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Xylem replied on Thu, May 27 2010 1:01 AM

Well said animatortom, The got out @ the right moment. Better quit when you are still @ the top of ur game. Big Smile

MS has been steadily losing market in the entertainment sector, something like a Windows 7 boom, is what MS needs right now. I don't see that happening in the very near future!

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3vi1 replied on Thu, May 27 2010 12:54 PM

Small correction to what I said above: Microsoft isn't 11% ahead of Apple in market value anymore. Later, the same day I wrote that, the NYT published an article announcing that Apple has now surpassed MS: $222B to $219B.  Not bad, for a company MS invested $150M in 13 years ago to keep alive as proof MS wasn't a monopoly.  :)

Now, I would not argue against the idea that Apple is over-valued, but I don't think the margin is by so much that this should not still be an eye-opener.

No doubt, MS knew this news would be hitting Wall Street soon, and is part of the impetus for management shakeup.

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eunoia replied on Thu, May 27 2010 5:06 PM

.

 

...pending.

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Shaking things up. I was just reading somewhere that two Nvidia Execs just left for AMD.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, May 28 2010 10:33 PM

>> I was just reading somewhere that two Nvidia Execs just left for AMD

Good. Maybe they can convince them to create an ATI fgrlx driver that isn't full of fail.

I spent the last 4 hours swapping cards and giving 10.5 a try under Linux, and it *still* sucks. They fixed enough problems so that now all my Wine games start, but they didn't fix so many as to not have the games lock up after a few rounds.

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