Two Major Microsoft Entertainment Execs Depart

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.