Opinion: Microsoft's devices departures mystery thickens

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Opinion: Microsoft's devices departures mystery thickens

Is this an HP tablet I see before me?

Spending more time with the family is a phrase normally reserved for cheating politicians but this week Microsoft has been forced to announce senior device division departures whose timings smack of debacle fallout.

After media reports suggested the device division's chief experience and technology officer - just call me "J" - Allard was departing, the dominant OS company put out a long statement from its CEO Steve Ballmer lavishing praise on Allard and his boss, division president Robbie Bach, because both were going.

Bach, a 22-year Microsoft veteran, is said to be retiring to "dedicate more time to my family" when he leaves in the next few months.

Allard meanwhile is middle aged and unlikely to be heading for a Florida golf course anytime soon, making his departure that much more odd.

But Allard was involved in his boss' Courier tablet project that was cancelled last month.

And that hasn't been the company's only tablet device related failure.

The media reports about the division's fallout follow HP CEO Mark Hurd's announcement that its tablet will use the Palm WebOS and not a Microsoft OS and will be available in the fourth quarter.

HP is expecting to have bought Palm by August after announcing the deal in April.

This all comes just five months after a triumphant Ballmer was brandishing a Windows OS using HP tablet at CES in January.

But by late April the rumour mill was suggesting that not all was well with the HP and Microsoft tie up.

Weeks later Microsoft's relevant department has suffered senior losses.

What is more likely, the sudden and unexpected independent career choices of two very senior men in the same department to go do something else, or the resignations of executives put under pressure after what looks like repeated public failures?

Following the apparent double decapitation of the division, Ballmer will take over control with its interactive entertainment SVP Don Mattrick and mobile communications SVP Andy Lees now reporting directly to him.

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