After 10 years at the company, where he started in the database group, Purcell will leave at the end of March "to explore new challenges," said the company in a statement.
"Richard's leadership has helped bring a dedicated and integrated focus on privacy to every part of the company," Microsoft said. "We are sorry to see him go, but wish him the best in his new endeavors."
As the corporate privacy officer, Purcell was responsible for one of the four "pillars" of Microsoft'sinitiative. The others are security, reliability and business integrity. In recent months, Purcell's group has finished creating a to measure how successfully the company is guarding its customers' data.
Security strategist Charney will take over the privacy officer role until Microsoft completes an international search for a new executive to fill Purcell's vacancy.
Although executive vice president Craig Mundie will continue to be the executive sponsor for the Trustworthy Computing initiative, Charney will now also have responsibilities for overseeing the initiative.