Creative Forces Robbie Bach, J Allard Leave Microsoft as Part of Exec Shakeup

5/25/10Follow @gthuang

Two longtime technology leaders are heading for the exits at Microsoft today. The Redmond, WA, company (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced this morning, amid swirling rumors, that Entertainment and Devices president Robbie Bach is leaving the company this fall. Senior vice president of design and development J Allard is also stepping down from his role, and will become a strategic advisor to CEO Steve Ballmer and his senior leadership team. The company didn’t say how much time Allard will spend in this new role.

Bach is a 22-year Microsoft veteran who has led some of the company’s most important and successful products over the years, such as Xbox in its battles with Sony; Microsoft Office; and Windows Phones. He is leaving the company to dedicate more time to his family and nonprofit work, according to a statement. Allard, meanwhile, is a 19-year vet who is widely known as a creative force behind consumer products like Xbox, Zune, and the Kin phone, as well as the Windows and TCP/IP product families. In his new role, Allard will keep a hand in Microsoft’s consumer strategy, according to the company.

Ballmer heaped praise on both executives on their way out. “Robbie’s an amazing business person and close personal friend, which makes his departure a point of sadness for me,” he said in a statement. “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.”

As for Allard, Ballmer said, ““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.”

As part of the transition, Microsoft said senior vice president Don Mattrick will continue to lead the Interactive Entertainment Business, and senior vice president Andy Lees will continue to lead the Mobile Communications Business. They will report directly to Ballmer as of July 1. (They had been reporting to Bach.)

News of the re-org, to borrow a bit of Microsoft-speak, comes on the heels of another notable departure at Microsoft. Earlier this month, 17-year veteran Alex Gounares, the former technology assistant to Bill Gates, announced he is leaving to join New York-based AOL. We’ll be watching to see if the senior executive brain drain continues—and who steps up to fill the voids.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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