Update: More top-tier Microsoft execs head for the door

Tony Bates, Tami Reller out as CEO Satya Nadella shuffles his cabinet

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"Bates makes a lot of sense," said Moorhead. "He was one of those in the running for the CEO before, he's been a CEO before. It's better for him to go do something different."

Reller was in the same boat, even though she wasn't named as a possible successor to Ballmer nearly as often as Bates. With a deep background in finance, she lost out to Any Hood when the company's chief financial officer job opened up last May.

Before that, and after the November 2012 ouster of Windows chief Steven Sinofsky, Reller ran the Windows group with Julie Larson-Green, who will stick with the company, at least for now, even though she was bumped off the senior leadership team to make room for the incoming Stephen Elop, who will run the company's devices efforts.

Neither Reller or Larson-Green got the top Windows job during the massive "One Microsoft" reorganization launched by Ballmer in mid-2013. The job instead went to Terry Myerson, formerly the head of Windows Phone but now in charge of all operating system development.

"It doesn't matter whether it's the top executives or the rank-and-file, if you feel snubbed or think that it's way too many years in the future to get to a point where you feel you should be at now, it makes a lot of sense to go somewhere else," said Moorhead. "[Reller] could easily go in at a higher level than she is now [at Microsoft] at a different company."

Moorhead said that although there wasn't enough evidence to claim that there's widespread housecleaning happening, he expects more changes.

"Microsoft can't afford a lot of waves," Moorhead said. "It's so time consuming. I'm expecting some nips and tucks in the beginning, followed by a major reorg, followed by more nips and tucks. Nadella will want to survey the situation for himself before he goes into any major reorganization move, so I do see this as the calm before the storm.

"Nadella wasn't brought in to do the status quo, or Ballmer would still be there," Moorhead said.

Microsoft can ill afford wasted time -- it's operating in a dramatically different environment than just three or four years ago, with slumping PC sales and a mobile strategy that has yet to pay off -- but Moorhead thought it would take a year for the dust to settle.

"It's tough when any technology company, any company for that matter, hires a new CEO, but professional organizations can work through it. Microsoft has a very professional leadership and management team, they invest in leadership and management development, and this is where it pays off," Moorhead added. "Executives get paid to keep people focused even at a time of change, and I'm sure Nadella will say, 'First and foremost, no dropped balls.'"

Reller and Bates have been cashing in Microsoft shares of late. Since August 1, 2013, Reller has sold 257,555 shares that put $8.8 million in her pocket, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Bates was even more active, selling 351,196 shares worth $11.2 million since Sept. 3, 2013.

As of Monday, Reller controlled nearly 456,000 shares, with a paper value of $17.1 million; Bates had approximately 615,000, worth $23.2 million.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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