Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer replaced Lees with his subordinate, Terry Myerson. Lees has been moved to an unclearly defined role to handle the integration of Windows 8, which is designed to work across smartphones, tablets, desktops and the entertainment division (Xbox) in a cohesive single platform.
Lees has only been president for 14 months.
His replacement, Mr Myerson, is the corporate VP who led engineering of the new Windows Phone 7 software. He will now be handling business development, marketing, and other responsibilities.
Myerson was brought into the smartphone division following the launch of the iPhone, but to be honest engineering has not been the problem. The Nokia Lumia 800, the first phone in the Nokia/Microsoft partnership, has received relatively good reviews from the press (CBR’s own review will appear here shortly) for its hardware and software, but sales have been low. The app store and marketing are where it needs work.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t made a dent in the Google Android and iPhone dominated smartphone market, obviously to the consternation of Ballmer.
Other than the aforementioned details of Mr Lees’ new job, no specifics were offered. He has no new title, no name to the division he is supposedly heading – is this Microsoft being secretive, or a rather unsubtly shunt him into the corner for retirement?
However, given the increasing importance of horizontal and vertical integration (as Apple has done with its desktops, smartphones and tablets), Mr Lees new role could also be interpreted as heading up the company’s most important project in a generation – ensuring Windows 8 seamlessly interacts with every hardware platform.
Now that Windows Phone 7 has had limited impact, expect Microsoft to throw its full might behind Windows 8. It needs to get some sort of footprint in the mobile space, or the company will be marginalised as a whole in the ‘post-pc’ world. For the first time in two decades, Microsoft is finding itself as an underdog. If it can market to this underdog status, as Samsung has been attempting to do, it may see some success.