Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has announced in an email to employees that chief software architect Ray Ozzie will be leaving the company.
"With our progress in services and the cloud now full speed ahead in all aspects of our business, Ray and I are announcing today Ray's intention to step down from his role as chief software architect," the email reads.
"He will remain with the company as he transitions the teams and ongoing strategic projects within his organisation, bringing the great innovations and great innovators he's assembled into the groups driving our business."
Ballmer said that Ozzie will concentrate on Microsoft's entertainment division before he retires.
The email states that Microsoft is unlikely to appoint a replacement for Ozzie, representing a major change in Microsoft's approach to software which has long had a chief architect determining development direction.
The approach was pioneered by Charles Simonyi under Bill Gates's rule, and was responsible for the co-ordination of Microsoft's operating system and applications programmes.
"From reading the latest organisation chart, Microsoft has organised into multiple autonomous groups and has probably decided that it does not make sense to have a broad and overarching chief software architect," Al Hilwa, programme director for applications development software at analyst IDC, told V3.co.uk.
"Now they have multiple presidents likely with their own internal architecture teams, so a chief software architect might end up being chief of not very much.
"One could ask whether it is difficult for outsiders to succeed in being top leadership at Microsoft. My answer is that, to some extent, yes."
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