The WSJ solidifies an intriguing post by Mary Jo Foley last week that J. Allard, the guy behind the Xbox, Zune and Courier—or more formally, the Chief Experience Officer and Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft's E&D division—is leaving after Steve Ballmer killed the Courier tablet project.
The WSJ says Allard is "is expected to leave that role" as part of "major organizational changes" at E&D, the division responsible for Xbox, Zune and Windows Phone (including Kin). E&D supposedly suffered cuts about a year and a half ago because of ballooning costs. MJF's source said more specifically that Allard "is on sabbatical and is unlikely to return to Microsoft."
It's true, Microsoft is desperately behind in mobile phones. Windows Phone 7 won't ship until after iPhone 4.0 or Android 2.2—maybe even Android 2.3. And even tablet computers (iPad, Android, HP's rumored webOS tablet projects). But losing someone who's roundly acknowledged to be one of their most visionary executives—from a company who so desperately needs vision—doesn't seem like a good way to shake things up. At least from our twirly armchairs. [WSJ, ZDNet]