Longtime Microsoft exec Veghte leaving

Bill Veghte, who most recently was head of the business side of Windows, will depart Redmond after 19 years at the company.

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
3 min read

Microsoft said on Thursday that senior vice president Bill Veghte is leaving the company after nearly two decades.

Veghte, who began his career as associate product manager on the Office team and who also headed North American sales, was most recently head of the business side of Windows. However, the 19-year veteran had transitioned those responsibilities to Steven Sinofsky, who last July was named to head both business and engineering efforts for the flagship operating system. At the time, Microsoft said Veghte would move to a new, unspecified role.

In an interview, Veghte said that he wanted a role in which he could lead a business "from end to end" and that the right fit just wasn't there within Microsoft.

"There's only a couple of those senior jobs," Veghte said. His last day at Microsoft is January 31.

Veghte, who has spent his entire professional career at Microsoft, said he isn't sure what's next, though he hopes to land a job heading up a fast-growing business.

In an e-mail to colleagues, Veghte noted that he decided he wanted to work at Microsoft right out of college, although his road there was a little rocky. He got rejected the first time and crashed his car on I-520 on his way to a second interview, spending four hours in the emergency room, before finally showing up to his interview in a neck brace.

"I called my future wife after the interviews and told her I had found a magical place... a place full of wonderful people with intelligence, passion and a strong belief in what they were doing," Veghte wrote. "They were so excited about a product they were about to ship--something called Windows 3.0. I told her I wasn't entirely sure what the company did. However I was so convinced it was something great that I was ready to move across the country to find out."

Eventually, Veghte was asked to take over the reins of the Windows business at a time when the company was aiming to recover from Windows Vista and regain both mind share and business lost to Apple. Veghte said he feels that in his time heading Windows he was able to help the operating system rebuild its reputation with customers as well as strengthen the relationship between Microsoft and the computer makers that build Windows-based systems.

"The relationship with the partners and PC (makers) is in a very different place than it was three years ago," Veghte said.

CEO Steve Ballmer sent a note Thursday to Microsoft workers notifying them of Veghte's decision, and the company also posted the note on its Web site:

From: Steve Ballmer
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2010 10:28 AM
To: Executive Staff and Direct Reports
Cc: Bill Veghte
Subject: Bill Veghte

Bill joined us in 1990 in the earliest days of building the Windows Office franchise as an associate product manager. Since that time he has worked in a wide variety of roles from leading the development of Windows 98 to spearheading the development and marketing of the Windows Server line to leading Microsoft North America. Most recently, Bill served as the Senior Vice President of our global Windows business where he was instrumental in the delivery and launch of Windows 7, helping us reenergize the Windows franchise. We all know Bill not only as a great leader who has consistently delivered strong results across sales, marketing and engineering teams, but also as a team player full of passion and commitment to the work at hand.

Bill has indicated a desire to run a business in a more end-to-end fashion and continue to explore new areas in the broad technology, communications and services sectors. I want to thank Bill for his important contributions to Microsoft over nearly two decades and wish him the very best in his new endeavors.

Updated 11:12 a.m. PST with comments from Bill Veghte.