Vole's chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie has announced that he will retire in 2014 and will spend his final years at Microsoft advising CEO Steve Ballmer.
This is a somewhat strange turn of career choice and it seems that his job will be split so that it ceases to be as powerful. Eric Rudder, chief technical strategy officer, is taking over some of Mundie's duties overseeing research, privacy and security, as well as technology policy, Ballmer sent an e- mail to staff saying that Mundie had changed his job as he gets ready to retire.
It is the second change to Microsoft's senior cabal of managers within the past two months. In November Windows chief Steven Sinofsky exited after releasing the latest version of its flagship operating system in October.
What appears to be happening is that Ballmer is putting in place a new team to start planning Microsoft's new moves to mobile devices.
Ironically the team is being led by Rudder and according to Ballmer it "will help shape the long- term technology-policy landscape in ways that will give Vole's future products a clear path in the marketplace". Any policy which can change landscapes will be interestingly volcanic or, as more likely for Microsoft, tectonic.
Mundie has had a long career as a top Vole. He was responsible for the company's early efforts in software for handheld organisers, cars and televisions. He also developed technology policy in areas such as privacy and security, oversaw the Microsoft Research unit and the company's technology policy relationships with governments such as China and Russia.
It might be that Mundie's retirement does not coincide with seeing through Ballmer's long planning. But the fact Ballmer has a long term plan might be a surprise for those who think he might have to exit the building himself.