Windows Phone shakeup -- current boss Andy Lees gets replaced

In what may be an attempt to fix Windows Phone 7's problems, the current head of the Windows Phone business, Andy Lees, is being replaced by Terry Myerson, who up until now has been head of engineering for the division.

AllThingsD reports that Lees is being moved to a new ill-defined position that Steve Ballmer in a memo called "a time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8."

Given that the opportunity is never spelled out, Lees' new title isn't given, and it's not clear who, if anyone, will report to him, it certainly doesn't sound as if this is a promotion.

AllThingsD reports that Myerson, in addition to engineering, will now be in charge of "business development, marketing and other responsibilities" for the division, but he isn't yet being given the title of president, which Lees had.

The memo Ballmer sent around praised Lees, as always happens when these kinds of things are being done to people. But clearly he can't be pleased with Lees, or else Lees wouldn't be pushed aside.

As head of the Windows Phone division, Lees had one of the toughest jobs at Microsoft. Windows Phone 7 is so far behind the iPhone and Android it's hard to know how it will ever catch up. Before the release of Windows Phone 7, the division's strategy was muddled, and it always seemed to be caught in the cross-hairs of insider politics.

So Lees shouldn't be made a scapegoat; no one could have succeeded in getting Windows Phone 7 a significant market share during his tenure.

Myerson starts off in a stronger position than Lees, because when the Nokia deal kicks in, market share should start to increase. But I'm not sure that just changing the guard at the top will do much to make the struggling phone operating system a real success.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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