Microsoft carries out Windows shuffle

The dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which suggests that software giant Microsoft is planning something big and surprising with its Windows 8 launch.

Andy Lees has taken a job which has a description which so vague he could be either French polishing Steve Ballmer before conferences or becoming the first Microsoft employee on the moon, depending on which way you read the press release.

Lees was in charge of Windows Phone division which, at the moment, is not doing very well. The impression that the Windows Phone has made on the market under Lee’s guidance is similar to that of a feather falling on the back of turtle auditioning for the part of Master Chef wearing a complete suit of titanium armour.

Lees managed a stunning 1.5 percent of the worldwide market which is particularly dismal, and the shy and retiring Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer admitted that Lees had not flogged “quite as many [Windows Phone devices] probably as he would have hoped.”

In Microsoft there is only one way for Andy Lees to go and that would normally mean exiting the building by way of Ballmer’s upstairs window. However, it seems that Ballmer has other adventures planned for Lees.

According to an email Ballmer sent to Voles, reports CNET, Lees, who had run Microsoft’s phone business for more than three years, would be replaced by Terry Myerson, the corporate vice president who oversaw the Windows Mobile engineering operations.

Ballmer said that Lees will to move to a new role working for him on a “time-critical opportunity focused on driving maximum impact in 2012 with Windows Phone and Windows 8.”

While working in close proximity to Ballmer for any length of time could be hazardous to your health, particularly the hearing, it could simply be Steve wanting to keep a closer eye on Lees.

The email added that Vole had “tremendous potential with Windows Phone and Windows 8, and this move sets us up to really deliver against that potential.”

This means that Ballmer has a plan and wants Lees to be in earshot to carry it out. Given that to be within earshot of Steve means anywhere within the State of Washington, there is probably no need for Lees to have the office next door.

CNET  points out that there have been times Microsoft executives have been given vaguely defined roles reporting to Ballmer, only to leave the company as the spotlight from the news of the new role faded. Lees has not been doing that well with Windows Phone so it would make him a good candidate for such an exit.

But Ballmer’s email suggest that Microsoft might be trying to bring its various flavours of Windows together.

There have been rumours that Microsoft wants to swap the kernel of the Windows Phone operating system, the Windows Embedded Compact code, with Windows 8. You can’t stuff all of Windows 8 into a phone, but certainly you could shove a fair bit in.

This would make it easier for developers to write programs that will run across Windows. Developers could reuse code as they create applications tailored for each device. What Steve Jobs taught the software market is that you can get developers to write your code without having to worry about using open source. The mobile market is particularly obsessed with the volume of apps you can get into your store.

However, if developers can not only use code from PC and mobile apps they will certainly be encouraged by the fact they can do so. It will also make the integration of mobile and office environments for the business market a lot easier.

If this is the case, then there must be some reason that Ballmer thinks that Lees is the man for the job.