Key Sinofsky-Era Exec Antoine Leblond Exits Microsoft
- By Gladys Rama
- March 31, 2014
Antoine Leblond, a longtime Microsoft executive who held key roles in the Office and Windows product divisions, is leaving the company on Monday.
In an internal Microsoft e-mail published Sunday by The Seattle Times, Leblond wrote, "This coming Monday will be my 9000th day at Microsoft. It will also be my last one. After almost 25 years, I've decided it's time for me to go out and see what the non-Microsoft world has to offer."
The news of Leblond's departure follows the announcement earlier this month that senior Microsoft executives Tami Reller and Tony Bates are also leaving the company.
Leblond, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer who was most recently the corporate vice president of Windows program management, spent much of his tenure at Microsoft in positions related to Office design and development, including corporate vice president of Office Program Management and senior vice president of the Office Productivity Applications group. He worked closely with Steven Sinofsky, who -- before his abrupt exit from Microsoft after the Windows 8 launch -- spent years as a top figure in the Office team before moving to the Windows division in 2006.
Leblond himself joined the Windows division in 2010 as corporate vice president of Windows Web Services. As part of that role, he oversaw the development of the Windows app store and curated the Windows Store for Developers blog.
In the ramp-up to Windows 8's 2012 launch, Leblond took to the conference circuit to stump for the new OS, which was burdened both by early doubts about the new "Metro" UI and a popular predecessor in Windows 7. Later, Leblond became one of the public faces of Windows 8.1, giving the first demo of the OS update at last year's Computex.
Leblond was left out of the executive promotions that were announced last summer as part of the massive "One Microsoft" reorg spearheaded by then-CEO Steve Ballmer. As part of the reorg, the entire Windows business became part of the new Operating Systems Engineering group helmed by former Windows Phone chief Terry Myerson.
As The Verge's Tom Warren pointed out, two other Windows executives who were "sidelined" by the reorg -- Jon DeVaan and Grant George -- also had close ties with Sinofsky. Both executives left Microsoft last year.
Leblond's exit marks the end of a watershed period in Microsoft, noted InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard.
"Leblond is the last remaining member of the Steve Sinofsky management team, a legendary group that built an astounding, unprecedented, and controversial series of software best-sellers, from Office 95 to Windows 8, including two of the most popular pieces of corporate software in use today (and my favorites), Windows 7 and Office 2010," Leonhard wrote.
In other Microsoft executive news, CEO Satya Nadella on Monday confirmed that Scott Guthrie will be the permanent executive vice president of the Cloud and Enterprise group, after nearly two months of having the role in an "interim" status only. The position was previously held by Nadella, who vacated it after accepting the CEO title in February.
Nadella also reiterated that former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will become the executive vice president of Microsoft's Devices and Studios group once the sale of Nokia's device arm to Microsoft is completed. Elop's return to Microsoft -- he once served as president of Microsoft's Business Division before leaving for Nokia in 2010 -- had always been part of the terms of the $7 billion Nokia deal, although the deal itself has been delayed due to regulatory snags. Previously expected to close sometime in the first quarter of 2014, Nadella said the acquisition will instead be finalized sometime in April.
Finally, Nadella announced that Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, will lead the Xbox team following the departure earlier this month of Xbox Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten.
Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.