Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer yesterday sent out a cryptic note to staff informing them that Terry Myerson, head of engineering for Redmond's phone unit, will add business development, marketing and other responsibilities to his list of duties. The idea behind the change is to free up Andy Lees to work directly for Steve Ballmer on a special project.
"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," Ballmer said in the email to employees, which has since been published by Microsoft.
"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," said Ballmer, adding "We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential."
Ballmer goes on to say that Terry Myerson will assume Lees' existing responsibility for leading the Windows Phone division. Praised as a key component in the engineering work on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, Ballmer says Terry will pick up Lees' development, marketing, and other business responsibilities and is not expecting any problems during the transition.
"Because Terry has been so integrally involved in our Windows Phone work already, I’m confident that [Terry] can make a seamless transition to this new and broader leadership responsibility," he said.
Though the first half of the email makes it sound as though Andy Lees is being called upon to perform a special task, Ballmer's note to employees makes it sound like Lees won't be returning to the Windows Phone division anytime soon.
"I want to personally thank Andy for his contributions to the phone team," he writes. "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."
Last month, Ballmer sparked rumors about Microsoft's intentions for Windows 8 in terms of smartphones with remarks he made during a recent shareholder meeting. Those listening to the CEO say he mentioned "driving Windows down to the phone with Windows 8," however, Microsoft says that Ballmer was misheard and that he never said Windows 8 was coming to phones. Check out more on that story here.