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12/12/2011
11:50 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Microsoft Shakes Up Windows Phone Management

Will Andy Lees' move from president of the Windows Phone division improve the mobile platform's fortunes?

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has asked Andy Lees, chief of the Windows Phone division, to change job responsibilities, removing him from day-to-day running of the operation. He still has some responsibilities in the division, but for now, VP Terry Myerson will take over Lees' functions.

Lees has been with Microsoft since 1990. Three years ago he took over the mobile device group which, at the time, included Windows Mobile. Windows Phone 7 development was well underway, but back then, Windows Mobile 6.5 had not yet been launched. He also wrestled control of the Kin phone project away from the Premium Mobile Experience group. That project, as we know, didn't go so well.

AllThingsD said that Lees will continue to report to Ballmer. Ballmer said Lees' new role will be "working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8." I am not at all sure what that means. If the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator hadn't been gone for more than three years, I'd swear it created that job description.

Microsoft's share in the phone market hasn't done much since Windows Phone launched in 2010. In fact, it has gone backwards as people abandon Windows Mobile faster than they adopt Windows Phone.

Myerson, who led the Windows Phone engineering group, will take over Lees' marketing, strategy, and other roles.

Surely, 2012 is the make or break year for Microsoft in the phone arena. Windows Phone has been out for more than a year, and its major 2011 update, Mango, gave the platform critical features like multitasking. From a feature standpoint, the device is on par with Android and iOS. The platform has received a lot of good reviews for its intuitive design, attractive Live Tiles start screen, Metro interface, and social network integration out of the box. This year also saw phone giant Nokia abandon Symbian in favor of Windows Phone. Nokia's first Windows Phone-powered smartphone, the Lumia, launched in Europe in November, with more devices expected in the coming months.

Those great reviews, unique features, and solid hardware partnerships, though, haven't translated into sales. We'll have to wait and see what, if any, impact these management changes will have on Windows Phone's market share.

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