In what seems an inevitable conclusion to the Microsoft-Nokia acquisition, Microsoft has announced that Stephen Elop would be leaving Microsoft.  This announcement came amidst yet another reorganization that also included the departure of former Server and Tools VP Eric Rudder, Kirill Tatarinov head of Dynamics CRM and ERP as well as Mark Penn whose departure is unrelated to the reorganization.

It’s been a wild ride for Stephen Elop.  Since leaving Microsoft the first time in 2010 to become CEO of what was the world’s largest handset manufacturer his career has been filled with controversy.  First was the decision to abandon Nokia’s Symbian OS in favor of Windows Phone and also killing off the Meego platform which was under development.  This move that left thousands of employees with a bitter taste in their mouth only to be made worse when tens of thousands of employees were laid off in an as a result of Nokia’s quickly shrinking market share.  Then in 2013 the announcement came that Microsoft would buy Nokia and Stephen Elop would rejoin Microsoft as EVP of Devices and Services.  Shortly after rejoining Microsoft there was some talk of Elop filling the CEO position after Steve Ballmer left, but this was fairly quickly quashed and current CEO Satya Nadella took the reigns.

It’s been more than a year since Microsoft has launched a “flagship” level Lumia phone, the last being the Lumia 930 or “Icon” in the USA.  It has since launched many, many lower end phones for the emerging markets where Windows Phone has a much higher market share than the US.  But analysts believe that Satya Nadella doesn’t support the decision for Microsoft to enter the cut-throat world of mobile devices and today’s ouster of Stephen Elop seems to cement that decision.

Stephen and I have agreed that now is the right time for him to retire from Microsoft. I regret the loss of leadership that this represents, and look forward to seeing where his next destination will be.  — Satya Nadella Letter to Employees

Few people could argue that Microsoft is still committed to Windows on phone and other mobile devices.  Their bold vision to make Windows 10 an OS that can run on any device is starting to emerge from the ether as demos of Continuum at Build and Ignite conferences stirred excitement for developers and users alike.  It’s rumored that the launch of Windows 10 for phones later in the year will be heralded by new flagship phones to run it on, but just because they are committed to Windows on mobile devices that doesn’t mean it’s going to be one of their devices.

And so the question stands, does the departure of Stephen Elop mark the end of an epic, if not successful, mobile device strategy?  Or does Satya have a hardware trick up his sleeve for Windows Phone fans?  Let us know what you think in the poll below and the comments!

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