January 10, 2011, 5:43 PM — The head of the product division most important to its enterprise IT customers is leaving Microsoft this summer for unnamed "other opportunities."
Usually that kind of description comes at the top of a story in which some vendor exec is being fired for some horrible indiscretion -- usually failing to make as much money as the CEO would have liked by following a strategy the CEO imposed.
In the case of Bob Muglia, 23-year veteran of Microsoft and head of its critical Server & Tools Business (STB) will leave this summer, running the company's third-largest division as a lame duck for half a year, while his boss, Steve Ballmer looks for a replacement, according to a note Ballmer sent to Microsoft employees earlier today.
In October, when Ray Ozzie, one of Microsoft's dwindling number of brain trust members, retired, Ballmer sent out a friendly "we're sorry to see him go, but my buddy has decided to retire" note to employees.
For Muglia the tone was much more direct.
"Bob Muglia and I have been talking about the overall business and what is needed to accelerate our growth. In this context, I have decided that now is the time to put new leadership in place for STB," the memo read.
While Ballmer noted Muglia's successes, it was clear he'd made the decision, not Muglia, out of dissatisfaction with the performance of either Muglia himself or the division.
The slight isn't fair to Muglia, who has taken on many of the toughest slogs at Microsoft, often turning them into highly successful, if not absolutely dominant, businesses. He started out running the SQL Server business, and went on to run the developer program, mobile devices, Windows NT and online services.
He was put in charge of the server division two years ago in what observers called a remarkable comeback, after being demoted to run the management software group in the wake of the failure of the "Hailstorm" or "My Services" online services offering.
Hailstorm was designed as a set of online services that look very much like SAAS or a cloud, but collapsed in a series of disputes about privacy and security.