The executive who oversees Microsoft's efforts to port its Office software to the cloud will be gone by the close of 2011, the company confirmed Friday.
Dave Thompson, corporate VP for Microsoft Online and a 20-year Redmond veteran, is retiring, Microsoft said. "He is looking forward to spending time with his family and volunteering with his favorite charities," a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement published by SeattlePI.com.
Thompson's group oversees Office 365, a suite of online versions of Microsoft Office and related utilities that's set to go live at some time in the coming months. "Dave shared his plans with his team to retire after Office 365 launches later this year," Microsoft said.
Thompson's departure could be a blow to Microsoft, which is betting big on cloud, or Internet-based, computing.
Along with Office, the company has engineered a version of Windows, called Azure, to run in the cloud. Microsoft, along with rivals like Google and Salesforce.com, believes businesses will increasingly prefer to tap software over the Web rather than store it on locally maintained servers that require manual maintenance and operation.
Microsoft will lose another key cloud executive when chief software architect Ray Ozzie fulfills his plan to retire later this year.
Microsoft has been hit with a string of high level departures—either forced or voluntary—in recent months. Bob Muglia will leave this year after effectively being fired by CEO Steve Ballmer from his position as head of the company's Server & Tools unit.
Former Business Division president Stephen Elop, former Windows strategy VP Mike Nash, former Genuine Software program director Alex Kochis, former Windows group senior VP Bill Veghte, and former Entertainment & Devices Division chief Robbie Bach have also left Microsoft within the past year.
Microsoft has yet to name a replacement for Thomspson.
Microsoft shares were off sharply in afternoon trading Friday after the company's quarterly report Thursday revealed slow growth in its core Windows OS business. Microsoft shares were down 4.36%, to $27.61, about two hours before the closing bell.