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Microsoft's Maritz to take lesser role

The vice president, once viewed as a contender to eventually head the giant software maker, is ceding most of his operational duties, becoming the firm's latest top exec to opt for a less pressured role.

Paul Maritz, the number 3 executive at Microsoft, is giving up day-to-day management responsibilities at the software maker, fueling speculation that he may leave the company.

Maritz, group vice president of Microsoft's developer group, will hand off his operational responsibilities to David Vaskevitch, currently a vice president in charge of the company's distributed application platform technology, who reports to Maritz.

Maritz plans to remain at Microsoft for the immediate future, said a Microsoft representative. The representative said Maritz, a 13-year Microsoft veteran, has not made a decision to leave the company.

Several of Microsoft's key products, including Windows NT and Windows 95, were developed under direct supervision from Maritz.

Maritz will join a new technical leadership team to advise Microsoft chairman Bill Gates.

Microsoft said earlier this month that Sam Jadallah resigned as vice president of enterprise sales; the company has lost more than half a dozen high-level executives in recent months.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.