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Linda Stone To Leave Microsoft

The woman tapped to reach out to Microsoft business partners is leaving to pursue personal projects.

After two years as Microsoft's VP for corporate and industry initiatives, Linda Stone is stepping down. Stone, whose primary responsibility was to smooth relations among Microsoft, its employees, and business partners, said she was leaving the company to pursue personal projects, including writing a book.

Stone, 46, joined Microsoft in May 2000, at a time when the company was battling antitrust charges brought by the federal government. In the wake of the charges, many saw her appointment as part of a larger effort by the company to soften its image as a hard-charging, win-at-all costs competitor. Shortly after joining Microsoft, Stone told InformationWeek that she would function as a "connector" between the company and the rest of the industry.

Her departure, set for March 15, comes as U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is set to review a November settlement of the case between Microsoft and the Justice Department. Nine states opposed to the deal are seeking tougher sanctions against the company. Stone and other Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment.

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