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Microsoft will lose two key executives

Robbie Bach will retire as head of the Microsoft division that oversees Windows mobile phones and Zune players. Robbie Bach will retire as head of the Microsoft division that oversees Windows mobile phones and Zune players. (Robert Galbraith/ Reuters/ File 2010)
Associated Press / May 26, 2010

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REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. said yesterday that two key executives from the group that makes the Xbox 360 game system, Windows mobile phones, and Zune media players are leaving the company.

The shake-up comes at a critical time for Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division. The company’s phone software and Zune both lag those of competitors, notably Apple Inc. Microsoft just overhauled its mobile phone system and started selling a new brand of phones, called Kin, for younger users. And the company is hoping to improve Xbox sales with an upcoming video game system that understands body movements.

Robbie Bach, a 22-year Microsoft veteran, has led the division as president since it was formed in 2005. He was chief Xbox officer before the division was created. Previously he served as manager of business operations in Europe and led Microsoft Office marketing. Bach, 48, said he will retire this fall and wants to dedicate more time to his family and nonprofit work.

J Allard, one of the technical and creative minds behind the Xbox and the Zune, is also leaving. Allard, 41, who has been with Microsoft for 18 years, has been the chief technology officer and chief experience officer for the Entertainment and Devices division. Allard will continue to advise CEO Steve Ballmer.