Ballmer shifts Windows Phone chief to a new Windows 8 related role

By Tom Warren, on 12th Dec 11 9:38 pm with 51 Comments

Andy Lees - Mobile World Congress 2011

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has asked Andy Lees, president of Microsoft’s Windows Phone division, to move to a new role at the company.

Lees will continue to report to Ballmer in a new role related to Windows 8. All Things Digital obtained an internal memo from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Monday. “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,” Ballmer said. “We have tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

The move will see Terry Myerson, corporate VP of Windows Phone Engineering, take over some of Lees responsibilities, including business development, marketing and other responsibilities. All Things Digital reports that Myerson will not be granted the president title of Windows Phone. Ballmer praised Lees’ efforts, despite the slow progress of Windows Phone 7. “In the three years Andy has been leading the phone group, we’ve come a long way,” Ballmer said. “We reset our strategy, built a strong team that delivered (Windows Phone 7) and (the Mango update) 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.”

Lees previously outlined Microsoft’s vision for combining Windows and Windows Phone. Lees spoke at a keynote address during Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this year. Lees explained that there are key trends that are fundamentally changing the world of devices and form factors. “It starts right at the core of the devices themselves, the core technology,” he said. Lees reflected on Microsoft’s first Windows 8 demo at CES. “The motherboard was smaller than a phone” said Lees. “You can put all of the key things required to run a computer into a single chip.” The system-on-a-chip transformation will assist in the form factors of PCs explained Lees. “We won’t have an ecosystem for PCs and an ecosystem for phones, one for tablets. They’ll all come together,” he explained. “It’s not that this is about replacing the PC, and that’s why our strategy is that these new form factors are within a single ecosystem and not new ecosystems themselves.”

Lees’ new role appears to be working towards Microsoft’s vision for a single Windows ecosystem across multiple devices. Microsoft is currently preparing its Windows 8 operating system which will include support for the latest ARM chipsets and a new range of touch enabled form factors.

  • Guest

    Not exactly the right message to send.

    • Anonymous

      please explain.

    • Anonymous

      there was a message sent?

    • Anonymous

      Or a message incorrectly inferred =)

    • Guest

      Or you’re just slow.

    • Guest
    • Guest

      This is exactly the message to send.  He’ll oversee bringing Windows 8 and Windows Phone more closely together.  Developers benefit, customers benefit, and then shareholders benefit.

    • Guest

      PR departments were made for gullible people like you.

    • Mr Lefleur


    • MrLefleur


      Are you really that dumb?

  • Hassan Ali

    Microsoft should be more aggressive in releasing Windows 8 in order to gain dominant market share in tablet.

    • Guest

      Because right now they’re probably just delaying for fun /s

  • Anonymous

    Good move to synergize.  He will be able to apply some of the EXCELLENT WP work in Win 8.

    • Guest

       ”a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8.”Given the opportunity is never spelled out, Lees’ new title not given, it certainly doesn’t sound as if this is a promotion.

    • Guest

      You really need to learn how to read. What does your reply have to do with his comment?

  • Anonymous

    I’m bad at corporate speak, is this a promotion or a demotion?

    is this “we like what you did with Windows Phone, come and do some of the same with Windows 8″ or is this “Windows Phone is failing, please step aside and let someone else try to make it a success”?

    • Anonymous

      This is just him moving positions, Microsoft has moved him around a number of times, he worked on Windows Server also. 

    • Guest

      Uh huh. When was the last time a MS President moved into another role and wasn’t either being fired or “retiring”?

    • OMG55

      It says he will be working on windows phone and windows 8; remember MS in trying to unify its ecosystem, so why wouldn’t you bring the person in charge of WP7 on board to work directly with the Windows 8 team to ensure the two systems work cohesively??

    • Guest


      Notice how you didn’t answer my question?

      Could it be legit? Sure, but it would be unprecendented. OTOH, there are dozens of examples where senior MS executives were moved from overall leadership to some vague new individual contributor role, only to leave the company within the next year. Add that to WP’s terrible adoption numbers, and more probable reality is that he was yanked because Ballmer no longer felt he was the guy to lead WP.

    • Jeff Kibuule

      I think promotion demotions are mainly in eastern cultures. If a guy sucks, Microsoft will fire them or let them go (see J Allard, Robbie Bach, Ray Ozzie). The fact that he’s going to be working on Windows 8 related stuff means its a real step up. And if it doesn’t involve any tight synergies between Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, I doubt they are going to blatantly announce it in his new title.

    • Anonymous

      Allard was fired.. He left.. And he didn’t suck.. We owe the Xbox and courier to him .

    • Guest

      Allard had some good insight and ideas. But he fell in love with his image and really hadn’t delivered much for years.

    • OMG55

      Credit him for Xbox, but the courier would have failed miserably just all current Android tables, Kindle Fire isn’t flying of shelves this holiday season either and of course WebOS (it only sold because they had a fire sale). All of the tables/slates mentioned above have had little or no impact in the tablet/slate market. 

    • NCDEX Today Tips

      that s it just happen like Bill Gates

    • AlienSix

      They are saying that Ballmer is starting to get concern about the Windows 8 strategy… it looks like Windows 8 may be VIsta 2:

    • Guest

      Still trolling, huh?

    • OMG55

      Can you read? It clearly says Andy Lees will be “Driving maximum impact on Windows phone and window 8. Didn’t you get the memo that Windows phone Apollo will be released in 2012? If it will be release in 2012 and Andy has been put in charge of it, can that mean that Myers may be getting canned because the next iteration of windows phone is what Lees in being put in charge of??????

    • Guest

      What is says and what is are often at odds when it comes to MS PR.

  • Guest

    “In the three years Andy has been leading the phone group, we’ve come a long way,” Ballmer said

    From >15% share to <5, for example.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, and it’s worth nothing that In the meantime MS mobile strategy has been completely reboot, moving from the wm dying crap to the wp almost unanimous praise.

    • 1001001010011011

      Yeah, I sing praises for WP all the time to my friends, family and colleagues. Yet I just bought an Galaxy SII instead of a WP. WP might be awesome, but come time to actually BUY a phone, I bought something else. Why? Because I CAN’T GET A NOKIA LUMIA!!! Will check back in 24 months.

      WP is like a diamond stuck in dung (availability, pricing, poor advertisements, etc). 

    • Anon

      I found Samsung Focus S instead of Galaxy S II after reading multiple reviews

    • Guest

      Sadly praise alone does not guarantee sales and even with the great Nokia hope it not looking good. :(

    • AlienSis

      Ballmer is just looking out for a friend, he knows that after this 4th qtr someone is going to have to be sacrificed moving Andy out now save his butt.  

    • Joe_HTH

      Yep I think your right or as Christopher Budd of All Things Digital put it:Having worked there 10+ years I can say this is probably the first sign that Windows Phone is failing. They never just fire someone outright at that level and on a product that is that strategically important. Read between the lines and you’ll see that Lees is losing his title and (most importantly) his power: he reports directly to Balmer as an individual contributor (IC) it seems.

    • Guest

      Hard to take anyone seriously who worked there ten years before probably getting fired and still didn’t learn how to spell the CEO’s name right, shill.

    • AlokC

      If you worked for MS for 10 years (I actually did — ’92 – ’03), you must have seen a lot of key people shuffled between positions, responsibilities and titles. A lot of key people have been moved to report directly to BillG over the years, and some of them are still in MS. If Lees was being really fired, he could have left the company altogether. It is highly possible that in a year’s time we’ll be amazed at how Win8, WP8 and rest of the technologies create a well integrated platform and user experience.

      If you (or I) were that talented, we would be running major corps like MS.  Trust me, it’s not as simple as we like to comment in fora like this.

    • Guest

      It is not about just talent is about connection – see Ballmer for example if he was not Bills buddy he would be managing a hotdog stand on the corner 68th and forth.   

    • Guest


      Yeah, you see a lot of Harvard scholarship recipients and graduates running hot dog stands, you tool.

    • AlokC

      3 years back iPhone was coming up, Android didn’t exist, and WinMo had a chance to 15% (or whatever) market share. If WP7 was not done by now, WM market share would be 0% (give or take 0.01%).

      WP7(.5) has not seen major commercial success so far, but all signs are positive.  The reviews are good, the extremely negative press doesn’t any more say that WP7 will not work (they just say that Android & iPhone rule the market, which is a known truth, without being reminded), Nokia surprised a lot of naysayers by bringing out the Lumias within 2011 and hopefully coming to US market in 2012-Q1, the app market is looking good (reaching 50K will be nice, and 100K by 2012-end).
      WP7/8 phones will not jump to 10+% market share overnight.  That should happen by 2012-end.  The effect of Win8 will create a more positive environment for WP devices too.

      If you are not trolling this site and are really interested in the Windows platform, have patience. 2012 is going to be the year of Microsoft.

    • Guest

      I’m not trolling. But the facts are what they are. MS totally blew this market. I agree that WP7 is a good product and getting generally positive reviews, but it’s now become a battle of ecosystems not operating systems. And with Nokia as the only real supplier, MS has no chance of threatening Apple or Android for leadership. I think your 10% by end of next year is possible but very optimistic. As I see it, MS’s destiny is no longer in its own hands. Google or Apple now have to make a big mistake, otherwise their lead is insurmountable.

    • Simon Paul

      Wow, you need a reality check. You said it yourself, this is a battle of the eco-systems. Yet, Microsoft has the most powerful and broad reach of all the three major eco-systems. They have Windows, Xbox, Kinect, Office, Zune (the service), Windows Server, Explorer, Bing, Windows Phone, SkyDrive, Azure, Dynamics, Developers, etc. Their eco-system owns Apple, and dwarfs anything Google can dream up.

      Their only issue is bringing it all together and integrating it. That which they are progressively doing each month. In the next couple years, their entire eco-system will be unified. And although some of the parts are not all winners. More than half are global dominators.

      Apple has a lead in mobile devices that is it.

      Google has a lead in search engines, and smart-phones, that is it.

      As you see it, the only thing that matters are current smart-phone statistics. That seems pretty narrow minded and naive. The future of electronic devices is huge, and while behind in a few areas, MS is still the leader in the foundation of these devices. Hate all you want, but MS’s destiny is far from dismal and certainly not in the hands of Apple or Google.

    • Guest


      Sorry, you’re the one in need of a reality check.  MS has the largest base but it’s the slowest growing. Smartphones+ tablets exceeded PC shipments for the first time this year. Nobody sees that reversing. So the person who wins in smartphones and tablets will have the biggest ecosystem. And right now that’s Android or iOS. In fact after less than three years, Android unit sales are already beyond the halfway point of annual Windows sales and growing at a rate that will see them surpass that within less than three years.

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t care who goes where at MS phone devision. All I want is them to fix and improve WP to put it on par with other leading mobile OSes.

    • Anonymous

      I’m pretty sure by your comment you haven’t used a Mango device for more than 2 seconds. Reviews the web wide have proven WP is a critical success. Please try a device or go look at the top reviewed devices on ATT, Verizon, Sprint. the only better reviewed phones are the 64GB iPhones and the Galaxy S II’s. That’s right, the Mango devices get better user reviews than nearly every other model of iPhone and Android device.

      After looking that up consider the Sprint and VZW devices are HTC and don’t have Super AMOLED!

    • Anonymous

      Wait what,  Dude are you crazy? I have had a WP (FOcus) from the 1st day it launched, so yes I know what I’m talking about.

      Overall all Mango is a great improvement over what WP launched with, but there are a number of things (small and big) that the platform can benefit from.

      I’ll give you a few examples so we didn’t have to be going back and forth.

      1. WP takes a 5/8MP photo and downgrade it to <1MP for share
      2. Poor FB integration
      3. Can't share videos via text
      4. Can't manage (select) multiple pictures to edit/delete
      5. Volume up/down is universal; should be able to set the alarm vol. independently

      All I'm asking for is a better user experience. Someone at MS should be using and pointing out small things they could do to improve the user experience. That's all I'm saying. 

    • Anonymous

      I think we’ll agree to disagree then. I believe your gripes are minor.  They don’t take away from the performance, ease of use or regular user functionality (like a lack of copy/paste did pre Mango).
      As for your Facebook integration complaint I think it’s… unexplainable.  WP7 was applauded by the tech community for social integration and Google has made similar functionality in Ice Cream Sandwich. 

      I have gripes too (which I’ve shared with WindowsPhone on Twitter).  I want to share video directly to Youtube and have OS VPN integration available to the OS and developers and not just MSFT.  Does that mean I can’t use my phone for 99% of everything else I do?  Would that 1% justify leaving a brilliant ecosystem for iOS or Android? I don’t think so and I’m not the only one.

      Bottom line is I get things done faster, simpler and with a lot more “wow” factor than I ever did on iOS or on an unrooted Android.

    • Guest

      Legitimate. Have you provided this feedback through any of the vehicles that exist for doing that?

  • eka

    What I don’t get is if WP is really doing well, like Microsoft PR dept keeps telling us, why does this memo appears in public at all ?     

    • Guest

      What I don’t get is why, if your favorite platform is so great, you’re over here trolling?