Key Microsoft Exec Abruptly Leaves

Martin Taylor, who became Microsoftis vice-president of Windows Live and MSN marketing in March, abruptly left the company this week. According to Seattle Times reporter Benjamin Romano, Microsoft would only say: "Weive made the difficult decision to part ways with Martin, but we donit comment on personnel matters."

Microsoft would not elaborate on its statement, despite the fact that Mr. Taylor on Monday had been expected to do media interviews about the release of Windows Live Messenger. Microsoft expects Windows Live to enable it to compete with Google, Yahoo! and similar companies, and Mr. Taylor was the one to lead that charge.

Rob Horwitz, CEO of Directions on Microsoft, told Mr. Romano: "This is not a normal type of exit. [This] is pretty odd to have someone center stage in press releases and stuff one day and removed from the Web site the next day."

Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox said that he expects "some disruption" to Microsoftis plans for Windows Live, which are supposed to accelerate through the summer and fall and then culminate in a big push coinciding with the release of Windows Vista next January.