The Departed: Microsoft Executive Exits In The Post-Vista Era

The Departed

Windows Vista officially launched on Jan. 30, 2007, and subsequently became one of the most heavily criticized Microsoft products ever released. Thanks to the recent release of the acclaimed and fast-selling Windows 7, Vista is now a distant memory -- for the most part. But a number of high-profile and important executives in Redmond, Wash., have left Microsoft since Vista came on the scene. Some executives have retired, such as Bill Gates and Jim Allchin, while others have resigned (or "retired" with quotes) and joined another company, and a few have been let go, forced out or fired. Some of the executives were Microsoft veterans, while others were newcomers. The one thing they all share is they left the company after Vista arrived.

Here's a look at some of the big names no longer with Microsoft.

J Allard: Retired

Longtime Microsoft veteran J Allard made a name for himself early on when he penned a 16-page memo in 1994 titled "Windows: The Next Killer Application on the Internet," which detailed the rise of the Web and Microsoft’s opportunities in the space. During his tenure at the company, Allard helped create the Xbox video game console and Zune media player and was also a member of the creative teams behind Windows NT and Microsoft’s TCP/IP products. Allard most recently served as chief experience officer and chief technology officer of Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division. However, after a reorganization of the E&D Division in May, Microsoft announced that both Allard and Robbie Bach, president of the E&D Division, would retire from the company in the fall. Allard will continue to serve as a strategic advisor to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Jim Allchin: Retired

Besides Bill Gates himself, Allchin may have been the most important executive to depart Microsoft in recent years, having been responsible for the development and delivery of many of the company's products such as Windows and Microsoft .Net. Allchin joined Microsoft in 1990 to work on the software giant’s networking technology. He quickly rose through the ranks after working on the marketing and development of many product lines including various releases of Windows. In 1999, Allchin was promoted to group vice president of Microsoft’s Platforms Group, and in 2005 he ascended to the role of co-president of the newly created Platforms & Services Division (along with Kevin Johnson). After 17 years with Microsoft, Allchin officially retired on the day that Windows Vista was released -- Jan. 30, 2007.

Read into that what you will.

Robbie Bach: Retired

Like J Allard (see slide 2), Bach was a top executive for Microsoft Entertainment & Devices (E&D) Division, having served as president of the division after the formation of the E&D in 2005. Prior to that, Bach filled a number of roles, including leading marketing efforts for Microsoft Office during the 90s and chief Xbox officer and head of Microsoft's Home and Entertainment Group. But Bach, along with Allard, announced he would retire this fall after Microsoft reorganized the E&D division. As a result, the shift at E&D has seen the departure of Microsoft's two most visible and experienced executives for gaming and entertainment.

Stephen Elop: Resigned

The most recent departure from Microsoft came as a shock. In 2008, Microsoft wooed Elop away from his role as COO of Juniper Networks and gave him the role of president of Microsoft Business Division. Elop took the place of longtime Microsoft executive Jeff Raikes (see slide 15), who retired, and immediately became a member of the software giant's senior leadership team. But within three years, Elop left Microsoft for Nokia when the Finnish mobile phone company unexpectedly tapped him as its new CEO.

Bill Gates: Retired

The co-founder and patriarch of the world's largest software company officially retired from Microsoft as a full-time executive in July 0f 2008, marking the end of an era. Prior to his official retirement, Gates had been scaling back his day-to-day duties for some time. In 2006, he handed over his role as chief software architect to Ray Ozzie and transitioned other duties to Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer. Gates still serves as Microsoft's chairman but now spends most of his time on charitable efforts via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Scott Howe: Resigned

When Microsoft decided to make a strong push in the online advertising market to compete with Google, it picked up aQuantive for a whopping $6 billion in 2007. Howe served as vice president and general manager of Avenue A/Razorfish, aQuantive’s interactive ad agency, and joined Microsoft as corporate vice president of the software giant's Advertising and Publisher Solutions Group. But Howe left the company in May after just a few years and recently joined the board of directors at Turn, Inc., a media technology company. Meanwhile, the expensive aQuantive purchase has yielded mixed results: Microsoft sold off Razorfish in 2009, while the software company's online advertising push has struggled.

Bruce Jaffe: Resigned

Jaffe, a 12-year- veteran at Microsoft, most recently served as corporate vice president of corporate development, managing the software giant’s considerable merger and acquisition activity. Prior to that post, Jaffe had a number of roles including general manager of corporate development and chief financial officer of Microsoft's MSN division. But in early 2008, Microsoft announced Jaffe was "retiring." However, Jaffe resurfaced this year as CFO and executive vice president of Glam Media, a privately-held startup.

Kevin Johnson: Resigned

Johnson was a 16-year Microsoft veteran and a rising star within the software company after a 2005 reorganization at the company that made him co-president of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Divison. Johnson shared the position with the legendary Jim Allchin and assumed sole leadership of the division following Allchin's retirement in early 2007 after Windows Vista was released. Johnson was also a crucial player in Microsoft's effort to buy Yahoo!, a bid which ultimately failed. But Juniper Networks made Johnson an offer he couldn't refuse, and in September of 2008 Johnson left Microsoft to become Juniper's new CEO.

Jawad Khaki: Resigned

Khaki spent 20 years at Microsoft, first joining the company in 1989 and worked his way up through the software giant’s Windows business. Starting with Windows 95, Khaki led the effort to add dial-up and wireless networking to the operating system as well as broadband infrastructure. He most recently served as corporate vice president, Windows Hardware Ecosystem, and left Microsoft at the end of 2009 to become the chief technology officer and executive vice president of technology incubator Atigeo, a position which he held for less than nine months.

Maria Martinez: Resigned

Martinez was named corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Services in 2006 after previously serving as corporate vice president of the Communications Sector. Martinez was tapped to lead an increasingly important part of Microsoft’s business in the Worldwide Services group, but she left the company in 2009. Initially, Microsoft said Martinez was retiring from the company after six years to spend more time with her family. But less than a year after her exit from Microsoft, Martinez joined with the catchy title of executive vice president of Customers For Life.

Peter Moore: Resigned

Another casualty of Microsoft's gaming and interactive entertainment business, Moore came to Microsoft in 2003 after a distinguished career in the video game business, having served as president and COO of Sega of America. He became Microsoft's corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division, leading the company's Xbox, Games for Windows, and Microsoft Game Studios businesses. But like a lot of outsiders who joined Microsoft, Moore didn't last very long; he departed Microsoft in 2007 after just over four years on the job and was named as president of EA Sports at Electronic Arts.

Mike Nash: Resigned

Nash, corporate vice president of Windows Platform Strategy, was one of the more recent departures Microsoft. He spent nearly 19 years with the company and served a number of important roles, first joining the company as product manager for Windows NT and later overseeing the creation of as well as Microsoft's security technology efforts. Most recently, Nash was deeply involved in product management for Windows and, like others on this list, was a core member of Microsoft’s operating system brain trust. But earlier this year, Nash left the company and joined as a member of the Kindle team.

Sanjay Parthasarathy: Retired

Parthasarathy joined Microsoft in 1990 and had a variety of roles within the software giant, including regional director of Microsoft's South Asia Region, general manager of Worldwide Customer Systems and corporate vice president of the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group. Most recently, Parthasarathy served as corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Startup Business Accelerator, which was designed to guide and aid software startups. He announced his decision to retire last year and left Microsoft in October of 2009.

Jeff Raikes: Retired

Raikes joined Microsoft in 1981 as a product manager and served the company through three decades. Over that time, Raikes became a fixture in Redmond as one of the most well-known and respected executives in the company. After serving a variety of roles, including vice president of Office Systems and group vice president of the Worldwide Sales and Support Group, Raikes was named as president of the Microsoft Business Division (MBD). In early 2008, Raikes announced he would retire from the company later that year (Raikes' replacement was none other than Stephen Elop). Upon leaving Microsoft, Raikes became the CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

John Schappert: Resigned

Longtime Electronic Arts executive John Schappert left EA and his role as executive vice president for Microsoft in 2007. In return for leaving EA, Microsoft gave Schappert the newly created position of corporate vice president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, which included everything from the company's growing Xbox business and Games for Windows division. The addition of Schappert was a major coup for Microsoft at the time, but he lasted less than two years in Redmond before returning to EA as COO last year.

Stuart Scott: Fired

Stuart Scott joined Microsoft in 2005 as corporate vice president and co-CIO, sharing the role with Ron Markezich, vice president of managed solutions. By 2006, Scott had the role of CIO all to himself -- but he didn’t last very long. In November of 2007, the software giant terminated Scott’s employment after "an investigation for violation of company policies." The specific company policies, along with the nature of the alleged violation, were never publicly disclosed. So let’s not speculate. Bottom line? Scott was another executive casualty, and a particularly embarrassing one, in the Vista era.

Rob Short: Retired

A 19-year veteran at Microsoft, Rob Short was an integral part of the Windows team. He started in 1988 as a member of the original development team by Windows NT, and through the years was credited with shaping Windows by leading development efforts around everything from setup features to clustering. Short was also in charge of working with hardware partners to improve and enhance the Windows experience on PCs. In 2003, Short became a crucial member of the newly formed Core Operating System Division (COSD) and most recently served as corporate vice president of Windows Core Technology. Short took a leave of absence for most of 2007 and was expected to return the following year, but he informed Microsoft he would be retiring from the company.

Shane Kim: Retired

Kim, a 19-year veteran, was another leading member of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) team. He joined Microsoft in 1990 and after a few years joined the company’s IEB, where he spent 15 years. During that time, Kim became one of the most influential and visible executives behind Microsoft's move into gaming and interactive entertainment. He later became corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, where he oversaw the development and publication of games for both Xbox and Windows PCs. In 2008, Kim was promoted to corporate vice president of strategy and business development for IEB. But by the end of 2009, Kim opted to spend more time with his family and retired from Microsoft.

Bill Veghte: Resigned

Veghte joined Microsoft in 1990 as an associate product manager in the early days of Windows/Microsoft Office and rose through the ranks at the company. He led development on Windows 98 and also spearheaded development and marketing for Microsoft's Windows Server series. Veghte eventually ascended to the role of senior vice president of Global Windows Business and most recently worked on the blockbuster OS Windows 7.

According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Veghte "was instrumental in the delivery and launch of Windows 7, helping us reenergize the Windows franchise." Yet for some reason, Veghte was unexpectedly transitioned out of his role last year and was pegged for a new position within the company. But that never happened -- Microsoft announced in January that Veghte was leaving the company. He resurfaced just a few months later as executive vice president of the Software & Solutions organization in HP's Enterprise Business.