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All change at Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal which reports J Allard - responsible for the Xbox and parent to the stillborn Courier - is top of the leaving list.

Citing the omniscient "people familiar with the matter" the WSJ reports that Microsoft will likely announce a complete reorganising of its Entertainment and Devices Division, including the departure of J Allard, whose titles have included CTO and chief experioence officer, later this week.

The division, which includes the Xbox, Zune and Windows Mobile, made $1.67bn in sales last year - but revenue from Windows Mobile is in terminal decline (hopefully to be supplanted by revenue from Windows Phone 7), so it's the Xbox that makes money with Microsoft pinning its hopes on the hand-position-tracking Project Natal to keep that revenue flowing.

Windows Phone 7 is coming late to the party, and bringing little that's not already on the table, and despite leading the world towards slate-based computing almost a decade ago Microsoft has been surprisingly lackadaisical about putting together a platform that can compete with the iPad.

Videos seemed to show Microsoft Courier could have provided a credible alternative, but the gap between a video demonstration and a commercial product is broad, and Courier never made it across.

Which is probably one of the reasons behind J Allard's departure - he was credited with responsibility for overseeing that project, and Microsoft blogger Mary-Jo Foley reported his disappearance from the Microsoft campus last week following the cancellation of Courier, and that in turn must prompt some serious changes in the division.

Quite what new management can do we don't know, but they'll have to pull something quite remarkable out of the hat to start the long process of catching up with the competition. ®

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