Exec Exits Bad News for Microsoft Techies

Microsoft watchers say the loss of Muglia and others could prove to be a burden to the company's technical staff.

The departures of Bob Muglia and other executives from Microsoft Corp. could be a troubling sign for the software vendor, because many of those involved in the exodus were held in high esteem by the company's technical talent, industry observers say.

Muglia, a 23-year Microsoft veteran who's slated to step down as president of the company's lucrative Server and Tools Business (STB) this summer, will be the latest in a wave of top executives to leave the software giant in recent months.

In just over a year, Microsoft has lost Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie; Stephen Elop, the Office group's president; Robbie Bach, president of the entertainment division; Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell; and now Muglia.

"What worries me is the loss of these long-term people -- people who had the respect of the technical community inside Microsoft," said Rob Helm, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based research firm. "That was especially true of Muglia. His departure will be a real burden to that part of Microsoft." Engineering groups "felt [Muglia] was someone who heard them," Helm added.

Don Dodge, a former Microsoft evangelist who was laid off in 2009 and then joined Google as a developer advocate, said in his personal blog that "losing Muglia, Robbie Bach, Steve Elop, Ray Ozzie, Chris Liddell, Kevin Johnson, Jeff Raikes and other senior execs is devastating."

Johnson was president of Microsoft's platform and services group, and Raikes once led the Office unit; both left in 2008.

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