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Microsoft exec departs after tweet about Nokia phone

Should have given it higher marks

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A Microsoft manager has left the company after tweeting a less-than-raving review of a forthcoming Nokia handset running the Windows Phone OS.

Joe Marini, until recently a principal program manager for web activities on Redmond’s smartphone operating system, is thought to have run afoul of Microsoft’s strict social media policy when he posted details about a new Nokia handset running a build of the Phone 7 operating system on Twitter.

“I just got a chance to try out one of the slickest looking #Nokia phones I have ever seen," he posted on September 7. "Soon, you will too! #wp7,”

“Overall I would say an 8. Solid feel, good camera, responsive UI, and nice little touches on the body construction,” he wrote in a separate tweet. He went on to say it needed a larger screen.

Marini dropped off the radar shortly after giving a presentation at last week’s BUILD conference in Anaheim, California on web browser control in IE9. Microsoft confirmed to The Register that he was no longer with the company, although it declined to say why.

“We routinely do not discuss personnel matters, but I can confirm that Joe Marini no longer works at Microsoft,” said a spokeswoman.

Microsoft has placed increasingly draconian conditions on journalists taking prebriefings of new products. Earlier this month, reporters getting a first look at Windows Server 8 had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that explicitly banned the use of any social media to describe the briefings. Redmond also cut off internet access to the briefing rooms to ensure no details were leaked.

Nevertheless, part of the problem might have been Marini’s criticisms of the device itself. Last week CEO Steve Ballmer hinted heavily that Microsoft would be working closely with manufacturers to try to get the same kind of efficient merging of hardware and operating system that Apple has managed so successfully, and the first Nokia phones are expected to follow this format.

Given the current lackluster demand for Windows smartphones the company is hoping that its partnership with Nokia will produce an exceptional handset which will have the punters flocking away from Android and the iPhone. Any new hardware needs to be out within weeks rather than months however, if it is to catch the all-important final quarter of the year – the busiest time for mobile sales.

It may be that Marini was just a little too close to the release date and management got nervous. ®

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