Why Julie Larson-Green is back doing what she does best

Even if she is reporting to Qi Lu, head of the applications and services group (that's everything from Office software to Bing), rather than directly to Nadella, her new role running the My Life & Work team looks like a position that both fits her skills and is something Microsoft needs. It might look like a demotion but it's more likely to suit her than ending up as a third wheel under Elop.

No poisoned chalice

Larson-Green's departure means most of the Windows senior leadership has changed since the launch of Windows 8 and the departure of Steven Sinofsky. Some have retired, some have moved elsewhere in the company; veteran Jon DeVaan left the company, OEM lead Mike Angiulo is now corporate vice president for Xbox hardware, IE leader Dean Hachamovitch is running a mysterious special project – but senior VP Antoine Leblond is still there.

The team that creates the core Windows OS is intact (and supplemented by the teams building Windows Phone and Xbox), with Jensen Harris and Sam Moreau still driving design, Chris Jones running Windows services like the Store and what used to be the Live apps, and Gabriel Aul and Denis Flanagan looking after partners.

Although it's fashionable to see Windows 8 as a failure, working on it isn't a badge of shame; with trusted senior leaders like Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore and research head Rick Rashid running Windows, it's far from abandoned.


But 'big Windows' as it was once called internally, is no longer the centre of gravity for Microsoft. It's only one of 16 billion-dollar businesses inside Microsoft, although it's the basis of several of those businesses (Windows Server and Azure, Xbox, Office 365, Exchange and Lync, SharePoint, SQL Server and Dynamics all rely on core Windows because that's what Windows Server is built on).

The emphasis is increasingly on cloud, and the services that run on cloud – because Microsoft is no longer a platform company. That means Windows may become increasingly invisible, as it turns into plumbing for services.

As it stops being a high-visibility profit engine for Microsoft, it stops being an attractive team for executives who want to build their career on products and services and sales, so it's natural for them to move on.