Microsoft's chief operating officer has said he is quitting as the Redmond giant announces a big internal reorganisation.
Rick Belluzzo, who joined Microsoft in September 1999 as a group vice president, and had been in the chief operating officer role for a year, will leave the company to form his own business.
But many industry watchers have speculated that the former chief executive at Silicon Graphics was ousted from Microsoft due to the poor results gained by its consumer operations unit which he headed up.
The unit includes the troubled Xbox games console, MSN and Ultimate TV, its interactive television business.
Microsoft chairman, co-founder and chief software architect Bill Gates maintained that Belluzzo had made important contributions throughout his time at the company.
"His leadership in improving internal business systems and his role in the development of key product initiatives were very significant contributions," he said.
Beluzzo will stay in his position until 1 May and remain at the software company until September to help organise the transition.
His move was announced at the same time as a restructuring that will give more power to six senior executives.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer said the company needed to give core leaders greater control and accountability in the way they run their units.
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