Two Longtime Microsoft Windows Execs Head For Exits, More To Come?

Longtime Windows and Office veterans Jon DeVaan and Grant George left Microsoft earlier this week, the latest in a string of high-profile executive departures at the software giant.

DeVaan, a 29-year Microsoft veteran whose title was corporate vice president for Windows development, took over leadership of Microsoft's Core Operating System Division in 2006 and is credited with helping make Windows 7 better than Windows Vista. His departure was first reported on Monday by Geekwire.

"Jon DeVaan has chosen to leave Microsoft to spend more time with his family," Microsoft said Monday in a statement to media outlets. "Since he joined Microsoft in 1984, Jon contributed to important products and services across the company. We thank him and wish him and his family all the best."

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George, who joined Microsoft in 1994, was in charge of software testing for Office and Windows. His departure was first reported by AllThingsD on Tuesday.

Both DeVaan and George were among the executives not given roles in Microsoft's corporate re-organization in July, so their departures don't come as a huge surprise. Still, the departure of senior Windows leadership is raising eyebrows in the Microsoft channel.

Since DeVaan and George were involved in development and testing of Windows 8, they may have been pressured to leave due to the poor market reception of the operating system, Daniel Duffy, CEO of Valley Network Solutions, a Fresno, Calif.-based Microsoft partner, speculated to CRN.

"If these two were influential in Windows 8, then they need to go. This could be a good sign," Duffy told CRN.

"Windows and Office have been sacred cash-cows for Microsoft for so long that I doubt some of the long-time executives from those divisions even possess the capability to re-focus toward other technologies and avenues. It was probably anathema to them to even think of it," Andy Kretzer, director of marketing and sales at Bold Data Technology, a Fremont, Calif.-based Microsoft partner, said in an email. "I'm glad to see that a little house cleaning is going on up in Redmond. May it continue."

DeVaan and George both worked closely for several years with former Windows engineering chief Steven Sinofsky, who left Microsoft last November. According to the blog Microsoft-News, Terry Myerson, who was named executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems group in the July re-org, is behind DeVaan and George's departures.

Microsoft-News, in a Tuesday blog post, described the departures as "a purging of Sinofsky loyalists within Microsoft" that could lead to more executives departing.

Hal Berenson, president of software consultant firm True Mountain Group and a former Microsoft distinguished engineer, doesn't agree with this assessment, but he does think DeVaan and George leave big shoes to fill at Microsoft.

"With the departure of Jon and Grant Microsoft has lost a significant portion of its senior leadership talent. This may be a natural part of the evolution of the company, but that doesn't make it any less sad," Berenson said in a Thursday blog post.