Windows 7 designer Julie Larson-Green moves to become Experience Officer as Nokia’s Elop takes over Surface, Xbox and mobile device divisions
Microsoft is reshuffling its top executives as the company closes out its takeover of Nokia.
A leaked memo from Julie Larson-Green, (pictured below) one of Microsoft’s most notable executives, to her staff, has revealed that she is leaving her post as the head of Microsoft’s Devices and Studios business to be replaced by current Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, who will now oversee the Xbox, Surface, game development and mobile device divisions.
Larson-Green is moving to become the Chief Experience Officer for Microsoft’s Applications and Services group, leading the ‘My Life & Work team’ which manages the look and feel of products like Bing, Office, and Skype. To avoid confusion with CEO Staya Nadella, Microsoft is abbreviating her title to CXO.
Larson-Green is probably most famous for overseeing the design of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system. Seen as revolutionary for the company at the time, Larson-Green introduced the ‘ribbon’ bar to the Office suite of applications, and was also involved in the not-s-universally-loved design of Windows 8 and 8.1.
“As hard as it is for me to leave Devices & Studios, I’m thrilled about this opportunity,” she said in the leaked memo. “My discussions with Satya and Qi [Lu, the head of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group] made clear this is a critical space to drive new thinking and an essential way to help … shape the company’s direction. I’m looking forward to developing the Digital Life & Digital Work Experience Substrate that powers modern digital experiences regardless of device, as well as working across ASG to strengthen customer experiences.”
Larson-Green’s new role is a return to software-focused design, as she had previously worked on interface design for several of Microsoft’s key products, including Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office and Windows itself. Larson-Green’s new role will also see her leading the work to ensure that Microsoft’s software links well across the full range of user devices, from smartphones to tablets to PC’s.
She will report to Qi Lu as well as Elop, who she has met with on several occasions already as part of the handover process.
The move is the first significant executive change at Microsoft under new CEO Satya Nadella, who took over from former head Steve Ballmer earlier this month. Stephen Elop had been considered by some industry observers as a possible candidate for the CEO role, but given his experience in devices and targeting consumers, his new role seems far more fitting.
The moves come as Microsoft edges closer to its £4.6bn takeover of the Finnish manufacturer, which was approved by the European Commission back in December and is expected to close during this quarter. Nokia has so far received approvals from regulators in India, Israel, Russia and Turkey, and the company is seeking approval in 12 other countries.
Yet Nokia has signalled it has not thrown all its lot in with Microsoft, announcing three Android-based smartphones at Mobile World Congress this week. The four-inch Nokia X, slightly superior spec Nokia X+ and the five-inch Nokia XL all run a forked version of Android, and will come preloaded with a Nokia app store.
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