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Key Microsoft Vets Exit

Upheaval in Redmond’s ranks sees Raikes, Fitzgerald depart, former Macromedia CEO Elop arrive.

A handful of key Microsoft veterans have apparently decided to follow Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates out the door.

While the count seemed to change daily during January, the most notable departures for those in the dev world are those of Jeff Raikes, Business Division president, and Charles Fitzgerald, general manager of Microsoft's Platform Strategy Group.

Raikes said last month that he will retire in January to be replaced by former Macromedia CEO Stephen Elop, who was most recently COO at Juniper Networks Inc.

"Raikes had worked consistently on trying to promote Office and the Office branded applications like SharePoint as a development platform," says Directions on Microsoft analyst Rob Helm, who tracks the organization chart of the Redmond software giant.

Developer Credentials
"It's an interesting time for Stephen Elop to come in," Helm adds. "Most of his career was spent at Macromedia, which was one of the few companies out there other than Microsoft that has successfully driven a developer platform."

That platform, Flash, is said to reside on more than 90 percent of all Web-connected PCs. Adobe Systems Inc. in 2005 acquired Macromedia for $3.4 billion. Elop's track record promises to be pivotal as Microsoft attempts to convince developers and consumers alike that its own Silverlight alternative is worthy of mass adoption.

Helm says Elop's other key challenge will be to bring the Office dev platform together "in a coherent way, and get that out to the masses in a way that will actually track developers the way VB for applications used to do."

Elop has the credentials to suggest he will advance Microsoft's development efforts, Helm says, but it remains to be seen if he has the pull with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to get things done, as Raikes was able to do.

Other Microsoft veterans who in January said they were moving on include Rob Short, corporate vice president of Windows Core Technology, Sean O'Driscoll, general manager of Microsoft's community support services and the MVP program -- and Bruce Jaffe, who heads mergers and acquisitions, is leaving Feb. 29.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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