Microsoft Names Mobile Project Execs

Posted by at 1:41 pm on December 14, 2011

Microsoft  elevated two executives to key posts related to mobile operating systems, a move that comes as the software giant races to gain relevancy in smartphones and tablets.

Andrew Lees has taken a new role working closely with the Microsoft divisions in charge of Windows Phone software and Windows, which is developing Windows 8, the combined computer-and-tablet operating system the company expects to release in 2012. Mr. Lees had previously been in charge of the unit developing Windows Phone.

Terry Myerson will assume the vacancy created by Mr. Lees’s promotion. Mr. Myerson had been a corporate vice president in charge of engineering for Windows Phone.

The changes, announced in an email to Microsoft staff by Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, come as the Redmond, Wash.-based company struggles to gain in the fast-growing mobile market. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 operating system for smartphones received critical praise, but hasn’t gained traction with consumers, who prefer phones running Google Inc.’s Android system or Apple Inc.’s iPhone device. Microsoft has almost no presence in the tablet computer market.

In the Monday email to staff, Mr. Ballmer emphasized the urgency behind the moves, which are effective immediately.

“I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8,” the memo read. “We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

The company’s Windows 8 software, which Microsoft disclosed last week will arrive in a test version in February, will be a key technology for leading the company into the market for tablet computing. The software will use a system of commands similar to its phone software and support touch-screen applications on both tablets and PCs.

Earlier this year, Microsoft struck a partnership for Nokia Corp. to use Windows Phone to power Nokia’s next generation of smartphones. Nokia brought the first products to market in Europe in the fall and will soon introduce them in the U.S.

Monday’s personnel changes elevate executives at both initiatives into Mr. Ballmer’s inner circle.

“This is time critical considering where we are in the cycle of Windows 8 and where we are in the partnership with Nokia,” said a person familiar with the events.

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