Microsoft Windows and Devices Exec Vet Belfiore leaves the company
Notable Windows and Devices executive Joe Belfiore, known for his work on Cortana, Windows Phone and the Edge browser, has announced that he will soon be retiring.
Belfiore, who currently serves as Corporate Vice President for the Office Products Group, will participate in a transition period at Microsoft throughout the summer. He will retire thereafter, according to his announcement on Twitter.
Belfiore’s 32-year career at Microsoft has remained mostly on the customer and device side in various corporate vice president (CVP) roles, according to his LinkedIn listing. In addition to his stint in the CVP office, this included:
- Windows 10 PVC
- PVC Windows Phone
- Entertainment Services CVP
- Microsoft eHome Division CVP
- Windows XP General Manager
- Windows 95, Windows 98 Program Manager, Internet Explorer and Group Program Manager.
Many of Microsoft’s most important Windows products and peripherals have been introduced to the public by Belfiore over the years. Windows Phone is perhaps the most memorable. 10 years ago, Belfiore shared the stage with Terry Myerson, then Microsoft vice president for Windows Phone, to announce that Windows Phone 8 and the Windows 8 desktop operating system shared the same operating system kernel.
Windows Phone and Windows 8 also featured the same square user interface, which Microsoft called the “Metro” design, with clickable “Live Tiles”. It then evolved into Windows 10’s “new Start menu”, which Belfiore introduced at the Windows 10 unveiling in 2014.
It seemed at the time that Windows Phone would offer some competition to the already entrenched mobile market dominance of Google’s Android devices and Apple’s iPhone devices. Instead, five years later, Belfiore indirectly confirmed Windows Phone’s death in a Twitter post and said Microsoft would support other mobile platforms. He announced the death of Windows Mobile in a similar way.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia in 2014 was part of the effort to bring Windows Phone into the competition. However, two years later, Microsoft sold its stake in this acquisition to the Hon/Hai Foxconn Technology Group, exiting the phone manufacturing business. The purchase of Nokia, which resulted in financial losses for Microsoft, was notably rejected by Satya Nadella after taking the reins as Microsoft’s current CEO.
Belfiore demonstrated Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated personal assistant, on Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014 at a Microsoft Build event. Cortana is still available for Windows desktop users, although Microsoft discontinued the Cortana app for Android and iOS last year.
Belfiore also introduced Microsoft Edge as the company’s newest web browser in 2015. At the time, it was the so-called “EdgeHTML” product, using Microsoft’s engine technology. Microsoft then switched to using the engine supported by the Chromium project, initiated by Google and used in Google’s Chrome browser. The EdgeHTML-based Edge browser was discontinued by Microsoft last year.
Belfiore’s departure from Microsoft is a retirement and was not a forced decision, according to veteran Microsoft journalist Mary Jo Foley in this ZDNet article. His successor will be Ales Holecek, current CVP of Microsoft Office Products Group, according to Foley.