updated 10:05 pm EDT, Mon May 24, 2010
J Allard's exit from MS part of larger plan
Microsoft is planning a major overhaul of its Entertainment and Devices group at the top level, inside sources said this evening [sub. required]. The extent of the cuts aren't known, but well-known Xbox pioneer J Allard's decision to quit over the Courier's end would be one part of a "broader" move meant to stave off gains by Apple's iPhone and Google's Android platform. The Entertainment and Devices section covers not only the Xbox and Zune devices but also Windows Phone.
The company's Windows Mobile has been one of Microsoft's longest-suffering groups outside of its Internet services such as Bing. Analysts at Gartner noted last week that Windows Mobile's market share plunged to 6.8 percent in the winter as its aging design has been quickly dropped by the public in favor of Android and iPhone. Last year was also defined by phone builders abandoning Windows Mobile for some or even all of their phone lineups and usually benefiting from dropping the platform. Motorola and Sony Ericsson both reclaimed some smartphone market share and either reduced or eliminated losses, while HTC has had some of its best success after switching primarily to Android.
The Courier's end is rumored to have come after a personal disagreement with Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer over its potential success in the market. It was to be a dual-screen tablet based on the same basic framework as Windows Phone 7 but optimized for a journal-like reading and collaboration environment. While its details were never officially unveiled, it would have faced a major challenge in competing against the hot-selling iPad several months later.