Windows Live Head Leaves Microsoft

Less than 24 hours after the launch of Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft corporate vice president Martin Taylor, who oversaw the product's launch, has made a surprise departure from the Redmond company. Taylor was a 13-year veteran of Microsoft and a top advisor to company CEO Steve Ballmer.

Before becoming a corporate VP of Windows Live and MSN in March, Taylor spearheaded Microsoft's "Get the Facts" campaign that responded to the threat from Linux and open source. He was expected to play a major role in shaping the Windows Live strategy, and was featured in a Microsoft Q&A on Monday.

Strangely, an initial draft of the Windows Live Messenger launch press release featured division head Kevin Johnson, but the quote was attributed to Taylor for the final announcement. Microsoft officials did not say if the confusion had anything to do with Taylor leaving the company.

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"We’ve made the difficult decision to part ways with Martin, but we don’t comment on personnel matters." a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews. "We appreciate Martin’s contributions at Microsoft over the past thirteen years."

"Given Martin's role, yesterday's Q&A and the way Microsoft departures are typically disclosed, I would characterize his exit as sudden--and unexpected," commented Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox. "Most certainly, it's a blow when any company loses a veteran executive. But, as much as I hate to admit it, anyone can be replaced."

On Monday, Taylor elaborated on future Windows Live launch plans. Windows Live Custom Domains will officially launch in the coming weeks, while Windows Live Spaces, Friends-of-Friends Social Networking, and Windows Live Expo will launch during the summer. More innovations in search and live.com are coming soon.

"This is an exciting time for services as well as for Microsoft, and there's more to come," Taylor said.

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