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Microsoft Windows and Devices Exec Vet Belfiore To Leave Company

Notable Windows and Devices executive Joe Belfiore, known for his work on Cortana, Windows Phone and the Edge browser, announced that he will shortly be retiring.

Belfiore, who currently serves as corporate vice president for the Office product group, will help with a transition period at Microsoft throughout the summer. He'll retire thereafter, according to his announcement on Twitter.

Belfiore's 32-year Microsoft career mostly stayed on the client and devices side in various corporate vice president (CVP) roles, according to his LinkedIn listing. On top of his Office CVP stint, it included:

  • Windows 10 CVP
  • Windows Phone CVP
  • Entertainment Services CVP
  • Microsoft eHome Division CVP
  • Windows XP general manager
  • Windows 95, Windows 98, Internet Explorer program manager and group program manager.

Many of Microsoft's most prominent Windows and device products were introduced to the public by Belfiore over the years. Windows Phone may be the most memorable. It was 10 years ago when Belfiore shared the stage with Terry Myerson, Microsoft's then-Windows Phone corporate vice president, to announce that Windows Phone 8 and the Windows 8 desktop operating system shared the same OS core.

Windows Phone and Windows 8 also featured the same square-like user interface, which Microsoft called the "Metro" design, with clickable "Live Tiles." It later evolved into the "new start menu" for Windows 10, which Belfiore showed off during the unveiling of Windows 10 back in 2014.

It seemed back then that Windows Phone would offer some competition with the already firmly established mobile market dominance of Google Android devices and Apple iPhone devices. Instead, five years later, Belfiore obliquely confirmed the death of Windows Phone in a Twitter post, and said Microsoft would lend its support to other mobile platforms. He foreshadowed the death of Windows Mobile in a similar way.

Microsoft's Nokia acquisition in 2014 was part of the effort to bring Windows Phone into the competition. However, two years later, Microsoft sold its stake in that acquisition to the Hon/Hai Foxconn Technology Group, exiting the phone device-making business. The Nokia buy, which led to Microsoft financial losses, was notably panned by Satya Nadella after he took the reigns as Microsoft's current CEO.

Belfiore introduced Cortana, Microsoft's voice-enabled personal assistant, on Windows Phone 8.1 back in 2014 during a Microsoft Build event. Cortana is still available for Windows desktop users, although Microsoft ended the Cortana app for Android and iOS last year.

Belfiore also introduced Microsoft Edge as the company's newest Web browser back in 2015. It was the so-called "EdgeHTML"-based product back then, using Microsoft's engine technology. Microsoft subsequently shifted to using the engine supported by the Chromium Project, initiated by Google and used in Google's Chrome browser. The Edge browser based on EdgeHTML was ended by Microsoft last year.

Belfiore's departure from Microsoft is a retirement and wasn't a forced decision, according to veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley in this ZDNet article. His successor will be Ales Holecek, current CVP of the Microsoft Office Products Group, according to Foley.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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