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Andy Lees

Andy Lees, the longtime Microsoft executive who oversaw the company’s transition to the new Windows Phone platform, is being replaced as the leader of the division, announced Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in an email to employees this afternoon.

Lees will “move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8,” said Ballmer in the email. “We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

Another longtime Microsoft executive, Terry Myerson, will take over as the head of the Windows Phone division.

Ballmer is making the announcement as Microsoft attempts to turn its Windows Phone business around, after seeing its market share slide in the face of competition from Google Android devices and Apple’s iPhone. Microsoft is counting heavily on its partnership with Nokia to help its mobile platform rebound, following the rollout of the new Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update.

Here’s the full text of the email sent by Ballmer this afternoon.

To: All Microsoft Employees
From: Steve Ballmer
Subj: Leadership Next Steps – Windows Phone
Sent: Monday, December 12, 2011

We are driving toward the end of the year with a lot of momentum and buzz, especially in the consumer arena. The new Xbox dashboard is being well received, Kinect and Xbox consoles set a record for Black Friday weekend sales, the Windows Store news from last week delighted developers and partners, Windows Phone 7.5 continues to win reviews, and the Nokia Lumia series has grabbed a ton of attention in Europe, creating anticipation for availability in other geographies next year.

As I look at where we are, what we’ve done, and what we must do in the year ahead, I’m making two leadership changes to ensure we build on our momentum. First, I have asked Andy Lees to move to a new role working for me on a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8. We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.

Second, as Andy takes on these new challenges for the company, Terry Myerson will assume Andy’s existing responsibilities for leading the Windows Phone Division. As many of you know, Terry played a key and highly successful role working with Andy by leading the engineering work on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5. Terry will now be responsible for Windows Phone development, marketing, and other business functions. Because Terry has been so integrally involved in our Windows Phone work already, I’m confident that he can make a seamless transition to this new and broader leadership responsibility.

Both these changes take place immediately.

I want to personally thank Andy for his contributions to the phone team. In the three years Andy has been leading the phone group, we’ve come a long way – we reset our strategy, built a strong team that delivered WP7 and WP7.5 and created critical new partnerships and ecosystem around Windows Phone. That is a ton of progress in a brief period of time, and I’m excited for Terry and team to keep driving forward and for Andy to dig into a new challenge.

It is amazing to pause and look back at what we’ve accomplished as a company this year, from our incredible product momentum to the formation of several powerful partnerships and the overall strength of our leadership team. And you know I’m a look-forward kind of person, so when I look forward to 2012, I see even more opportunity and potential in what we have planned.

Steve

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