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Key Microsoft executive leaves company

Still reeling from the ruling in its antitrust case, Microsoft is hit with the loss of a key link to software developers.

Still reeling from the ruling in its antitrust case, Microsoft has been hit with the loss of a key link to software developers.

The software giant confirmed today that vice president Tod Nielsen is leaving the company to "pursue other interests."

The 12-year Microsoft veteran was part of the platforms, strategy and developer group that reported to Paul Maritz. Microsoft spokeswoman Kimberly Kuresman said no direct replacement is being named for Nielsen, who will leave the company Friday.

Word of Nielsen's departure comes less than a week after Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that the software giant should be split into two companies and ordered a score of restrictions on the company's business practices.

"Microsoft will miss Tod's ability to engage the developer and also his ability to lobby for the developer community within Microsoft," said Summit Strategies analyst Dwight Davis. "Microsoft is battling to retain their loyalty."

The company lost its chief financial officer, Greg Maffei, who left in December to head 360Networks, formerly Worldwide Fiber.

Jim Allchin, head of the Platform Products Group at Microsoft, is set to take a two-month vacation, returning in September. However, other executives have not returned following long leaves, including chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold, Internet executive Pete Higgins and former senior vice president for applications Brad Silverberg.

Kuresman said work on the Special coverage: Breakupcompany's Forum 2000 conference is being headed by Sanjay Parthasarathy, Charles Fitzgerald and Vic Gundotra and will not be affected. That conference was already delayed to June 22 because of the antitrust ruling.

At the Forum event, the company will announce details of its new Internet-based software and services strategy, called "Next Generation Windows Services."

Kuresman said Nielsen has expressed interest in running his own business and is considering several offers.

"We wish Tod the very best," Kuresman said. "He has been an important contributor to Microsoft in a number of roles."