Richard Purcell, the corporate privacy officer for Microsoft, plans to resign at the end of March, Microsoft said.
Purcell, 53, plans to take some time off and "climb mountains," said Rick Miller, a Microsoft spokesman, adding that Purcell wants to stay involved in the industry debate over protecting privacy in the information age.
Purcell was responsible for helping shape the company's policies on privacy and promoting awareness of privacy concerns throughout Microsoft. He first came to the company 10 years ago as a manager of databases.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates a year ago established privacy as one of the tenets of his "Trustworthy Computing" initiative, which is designed to improve the company's performance in providing secure software and protecting people's privacy.
Chief security officer Scott Charney will take on Purcell's duties while a replacement is found, Miller said.